Tataltepec Chatino verb classification and aspect morphology



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The verb in a Chatino language bears a value for Aspect (a grammatical category of Zapotecan verbs which indicates a bundle of aspectual and modal features), marked with a prefix, a tonal change, or both. There is a moderate amount of allomorphy among the Aspect prefixes, and when verbs of Tataltepec Chatino are grouped according to in which particular forms a given verb’s Aspect prefix appears, generalizations about the verbs can be made. For example, verbs with one set of allomorphs are are generally transitive; verbs with another set are generally intransitive, and so on.
Attempts to meaningfully classify the verbs of contemporary Tataltepec Chatino are complicated by the effects of a few incomplete processes, such as the syncopation of historically disyllabic roots. To overcome this difficulty, a more conservative form of Tataltepec Chatino was constructed from an analysis of the lexical entries of a bilingual dictionary published in 1970 and from my own field notes. This pre-1970 Tataltepec Chatino shows the Aspect prefixes quite clearly and allows for a ready classification of the verbs. When the verb classes which can be identified for Tataltepec Chatino are compared to those found for other Chatino languages, we can see the development of several subclasses being brought about by various morphophonemic processes, such as the syncopation of Aspect prefix vowels, the deletion of similar consonants, and the merger of coronal and velar stops before laterals. This verb classification also corroborates those undertaken for Zenzontepec Chatino and the Eastern Chatino of San Marcos Zacatepec, as this verb classification scheme is largely in concord with them or if not, convincing explanations of Tataltepec Chatino’s deviance can be found.