Language Variation & Change workshop

December 2, 2022 | 3:30PM
Rosenwald 301

December 2
Hilaria Cruz, University of Louisville
In-person and Zoom, Rosenwald Hall 301

The Workshop on Language Variation & Change will be meeting for the last time this quarter on Friday, December 2nd from 15:30-17:00 in Rosenwald 301Prof. Hilaria Cruz from the University of Louisville will be presenting on tone in Chatino.

"Song-verbs: Tonal verb inflection classes in two Eastern Chatino languages"

The complex tonal systems of San Juan Quiahije (SJQ) and San Marcos Zacatepec (ZAC), two Eastern Chatino languages of Oaxaca Mexico, convey both lexical and grammatical meaning. For instance, the 10 tonemes and 16 morphological tonal categories of SJQ and the 5 tonemes and around 15 morphological tonal categories of ZAC, play a crucial role in marking both aspect/mood and person/number inflection in verbs.

Aspect/mood inflectional classes in SJQ and ZAC, are marked by an orthogonal system of exponence (Woodbury 2019). Each one of these systems defines conjugation classes that are almost perfectly orthogonal and independent of each other: one is based on prefixation and the other is based on tonal ablaut (Woodbury 2019). In ZAC Chatino, for instance, knowledge of the prefix conjugation class, does not lead to the prediction of the tone conjugation class; and vice-versa.

The study of tonal inflection remains a puzzling issue for both descriptive and theoretical linguistics because these issues have not received much attention in morphological theories and because our current knowledge of inflectional classes is still largely based on European languages. Thus, then, the unique system of exponence in the Eastern Chatino languages of SJQ and ZAC, broadens our understanding of morphological functions of tone.

This presentation will be both in-person and on Zoom at this link.

If you are interested in presenting your own work at LVC, please email Inî ( or myself (

Check out our website for the complete LVC fall quarter schedule and information about the workshop here.