Prosody as a means to express tense in the Kaingang language

Author(s): Márcia Nascimento, Marcus Maia and Leticia Rebollo-Couto


This study describes a prosodic process which is used in the Brazilian Indigenous language Kaingang (Je family, Macro-Je stock) to distinguish tense in a specific verb class which ends by consonant segments. Prosody distinguishes past and future in that verb class, both in declarative and in interrogative sentences. A psycholinguistic experiment and acoustic analysis demonstrate that the Kaingang language, considered as an accented language in the current literature, displays grammatical tone as a morphological feature, in addition to a set of particles and morphemes. A rising contour of the fundamental frequency indicates future tense whereas a falling contour indicates past tense.


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