[Lingtyp] Language change and foot structure

Hiroto Uchihara uchihara at buffalo.edu
Wed Aug 18 12:47:41 UTC 2021

Dear Matt,

This is attested in some Otomanguean languages. Within Zapotecan, Zapotec
generally has (or had) a trochaic pattern while Chatino has (or had) an
iambic pattern. Many languages in each subgroup have undergone deletion of
the atonic vowels, thus cognates between Zapotec and Chatino can look very
different despite being cognates (for instance, 'tortilla' is gεt in
Teotitlán Zapotec while it is kyja in Quiahije Chatino, from *ketta).
Within Mixtecan, most Mixtec varieties have a trochaic pattern but some
(such as Yoloxochitl Mixtec; DiCanio et al 2018) and Triqui have an iambic

DiCanio, Christian, Joshua Benn and Rey Castillo García. 2018. The
phonetics of information structure in Yoloxóchitl Mixtec. Journal of
Phonetics 68: 50-68.


El mié, 18 de ago. de 2021 a la(s) 05:52, David Gil (gil at shh.mpg.de)

> Dear Matt,
> In colloquial Malay/Indonesian, some dialects are iambic while others are
> trochaic; with just a few exceptions this follows a geographical pattern,
> with final stress to the west, penultimate stress to the east.  So
> presumably the kind of shift you are looking for must have taken place
> here, in the course of the diversification of Malay/Indonesian dialects.
> As for the directionality of the shift: given that Malay originated in the
> western part of the archipelago, where foot structure is iambic, one might
> speculate that this was the original pattern, and that as the language
> spread eastwards, some varieties switched to trochaic, most likely under
> the influence of the local substrate languages, many of which have trochaic
> structure.
> David
> On 17/08/2021 22:07, Matthew Windsor wrote:
> Dear all,
> Is anyone aware of a language where metrical/rhythmic structure has
> clearly shifted from having right-headed (iambic) feet to left-headed
> (trochaic) feet or vice versa? I’m studying a language variety where this
> seems to be the case. It’s a quantity-sensitive system, so the change
> mainly affects strings of light syllables. Any examples or suggested
> resources would be helpful, thanks!
> Regards,
> --
> *Matt Windsor*
> Linguistics & Translation Facilitator | SIL Americas, North
> Cell: 1-807-631-6656
> ᐅᐦᐅᐁᐧ ᐃᐦᑭᑐᐃᐧᐣ ᑮᐄᐧᔮᐦᓯᐃᐧ ᒦᓇ ᑭᑮᐱᐄᐧᒋᐊᔮᒥᑯᓈᐣ.
> _______________________________________________
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> --
> David Gil
> Senior Scientist (Associate)
> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany
> Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
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Dr. Hiroto Uchihara
Investigador, Titular A (Associate Research Professor)
Seminario de Lenguas Indígenas
Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Circuito Mario de la Cueva
Ciudad Universitaria, 04510, Ciudad de México.
Tel. Seminario:(+52)-(55)-5622-7489
Office: (+52)-(55)-5622-7250, Ext. 49223
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