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Cuadernos de Lingüística de El Colegio de México

versión On-line ISSN 2007-736X


SOBRINO GOMEZ, Martín. Palatalization and contexts of palatalization of *k/*k’: a path of phonological change in Mayan languages. Cuad. Lingüíst. Col. Méx. [online]. 2022, vol.9, e219.  Epub 22-Ago-2022. ISSN 2007-736X.

Synchronic and diachronic palatalization of velar stops in Mayan languages is a well-studied phenomenon. Although the change *k(’) > tʃ(ʼ), in several of these languages, seems to be a persistent one, authors who have described it propose that in each language or subgroup of the family there are special conditions or different contexts in which palatalization occurs, either to argue that the change is an independent innovation or the result of areal diffusion. Based on the analysis of Mayan languages that manifest palatalization of k(’) (synchronic or diachronic), as well as on the examination of the lexical diffusion patterns of MAM dialects and Eastern languages, two palatalization rules are proposed: one that responds to a process of assimilation (before and after front vowels), and another one that responds to a process of dissimilation (when the velar stop precedes dorsal consonants in the same root). In each language or subgroup of languages both rules or only one of them can be active. The existence of an intermediate stage in this change is also proposed: *k(ʼ) > *kʲ(ʼ) > tʃ(ʼ). When a language does not palatalize a velar stop in some words, it would be not only due to the limited scope of the diffusion of the rules, since the change (either independently or by diffusion) can be blocked because of root phonotactics. In view of these and other factors such as loanwords in the study of palatalization of velar stops in Mayan languages, it will be possible to observe in detail the state of lexical diffusion of Classic Ch’olan, as well as the level of interaction that q’anjob’alan languages had with the languages of the lowlands.

Palabras llave : Mayan languages; palatalization contexts; assimilation; dissimilation; root phonotactics.

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