Rhythmic syncope and opacity in Mojeño Trinitario


  • Françoise Rose Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage, CNRS/Université Lyon2




phonology, stress, prosody, rhythmic syncope, Mojeño (Arawak)


This paper presents rhythmic syncope in Mojeño Trinitario, an Arawak language spoken in lowland Bolivia. In this language, every vowel that is in a weak prosodic position can syncopate. The syncope pattern of Mojeño Trinitario is remarkable for several reasons. First, it involves a regular, categorical and complete deletion rather than a statistical reduction of vowels. Second, it applies similarly to words with either of two stress patterns: iambic words, which make up the great majority of words, and trochaic ones, much less numerous. Third, a great variety of consonant sequences are the result of syncope, and syllabification applies again after syncope. Fourth, rhythmic syncope actually underapplies: almost half of the vowels that are in a position to syncopate are maintained, and vowel quality plays a statistical role in immunity to syncope. Fifth, due to a rich morphology and a set of complex phonotactic rules applying sequentially, syncope leads to extreme opacity. The data presented in this paper in a theory-neutral way contribute to the typology of rhythmic syncope. It will also be of interest to phonologists considering constraint-based vs. derivational models of phonology.



How to Cite

Rose, F. (2019). Rhythmic syncope and opacity in Mojeño Trinitario. Phonological Data and Analysis, 1(2), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.3765/pda.v1art2.2