The Distribution of Aspirated Stops and /h/ in Bangla: An Optimality Theoretic Approach

| January 7, 2014

December 2009
Volume 4 Issue 2

| December 2009 home | PDF version |

The Distribution of Aspirated Stops and /h/ in Bangla: An Optimality Theoretic Approach

Anupam Das
Indiana University

Anupam Das is a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University in the Department of Linguistics with a minor in Information Science. He specializes in computer-mediated communication, pragmatics, phonology, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics. Prior to joining Ph.D. program, he earned his M.A. and M.Phil in Linguistics from University of Delhi, India.


A typological trend that often surfaces in languages is for aspirated stops and the phoneme /h/ to display some parallelism in their distribution. This paper investigates two speech varieties of Bangla: standard Dialect and Non-standard Hooghly dialect of which both have aspirated stops and /h/. These two varieties are highly mutually intelligible to the members of each group yet they show some phonological differences from each other. The distribution pattern of aspirated stops and /h/ in these two varieties is not identical. For each of these varieties, I delineate their distribution and unveil how an optimality-theoretic analysis can account for it. Crucial to my analysis are alignment constraints that show that the distribution of the feature [spread glottis] can be accounted for in terms of alignment to prosodic categories or position in a word. Finally, I demonstrate that the result of our analysis strengthens the typological implication of the optimality-theoretic analysis which predicts a range of patterns that are instantiated.

Key Words: Bangla, aspirated stops, /h/, optimality theory, alignment constraints

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Category: 2009