Postlabial raising and paradigmatic leveling in A’ingae: A diachronic study from the field




A’ingae, Cofán, postlabial raising, paradigmatic leveling, sound change, internal reconstruction, Amazon, Andes, telescoping, unnatural rule, fieldwork, isolate, variation


This paper discusses and analyzes the variation between ai and ɨi in A’ingae(or Cofán, an Amazonian isolate, ISO 639-3: con) by comparing the data reported in Borman’s (1976) dictionary with contemporary productions. In Borman (1976), ai does not generally appear after labial consonants; the distribution of ɨi is not restricted. In some modern productions, postlabial ai is allowed when the diphthong crosses a morpheme boundary (a + i). I propose that Borman’s (1976) distribution of ai and ɨi is a consequence of a diachronic change of ai to ɨi after labial consonants (* ai > ɨi /B _). The contemporary distribution reflects paradigm leveling and contact-induced replacement: Borman’s (1976) ɨi corresponds to contemporary ai if a is present in another related form. In novel productively-formed words, the availability of postlabial raising is speaker-specific. The proposed sound change of postlabial raising (*ai > ɨi /B _) is unusual and lacks obvious phonetic motivation. I speculate that postlabial raising reflects postlabial rounding (*ai > * ui /B _) opacified by subsequent unconditioned unrounding and centralizing of the back round vowel (* u > ɨ).

Author Biography

  • Maksymilian Dąbkowski, University of California, Berkeley
    Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics




How to Cite

Dąbkowski, Maksymilian. 2023. “Postlabial Raising and Paradigmatic Leveling in A’ingae: A Diachronic Study from the Field”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5428.