The Incrementality of Mayan Kaqchikel Phonological Encoding: Right or Leftwards?


Nasukawa, Yasugi and Koizumi (2013) propose that the dependency structure and stress assignment patterns in Kaqchikel are reversed compared to Indo-European languages. Following this argument, words in Kaqchikel are expected to be phonologically processed in a right-to-left incremental fashion, whereas the majority of languages process words left-to-right. Two experiments were conducted on native Kaqchikel speakers with high Spanish proficiency. Experiment 1 (word production) asked participants to produce as many words as possible containing a specific consonant in Kaqchikel and Spanish. The results showed that 1) participants generated more words in Spanish than in Kaqchikel; 2) most words were generated with the given consonants at the beginning of the word and 3) the fewest in the final position. Experiment 2 (phoneme monitoring) required participants to determine in Kaqchikel and Spanish whether a certain phoneme appeared in the name of an object pictured. Target phonemes were included as sounds in either initial (/k?r/“fish”), ending (/chak/“grain”) or neutral (no/k/sound, /q'aq'/“fire”) conditions. Both Kaqchikel and Spanish displayed a similar pattern: pictures with the target phoneme in the initial position were always detected faster than those in the ending position, in both languages. Consequently, despite the claim by Nasukawa et al. (2013), the two experiments in the present study provided no evidence for the right-to-left phonological encoding in Kaqchikel; instead, both languages seemed to display the same left-to-right pattern.

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Tamaoka, K. , Hayakawa, K. , Mansbridge, M. , Bulaeva, M. , Xiong, K. , Koizumi, M. and Nasukawa, K. (2015) The Incrementality of Mayan Kaqchikel Phonological Encoding: Right or Leftwards?. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 5, 135-146. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2015.52012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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