Amanda Miller-Ockhuizen's Home Page


Welcome to my home page! This page includes links to Linguistic Sites, Information on Khoisan languages, and information about me! I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Cornell University.


Me doing field work on Ju|'hoansi at |Xoan N!huru, Namibia with Consultant |asa Kx'ao


My Background

I lived in Namibia for four years between 1990 and 1994 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tsumkwe. Tsumkwe is the central area of the Ju|'hoansi Bushman language community. While I was interested in Linguistics in general before I went overseas, my experiences with the Ju|'hoansi peaked my interests in Khoisan Linguistics, specifically Phonetics and Phonology.

Khoisan linguistics is a growing field. These languages are the languages spoken by people usually referred to as Bushmen. However, there are many different groups of Bushmen people, and the individual groups prefer to be called by the names they call themselves. The language which I am working on is Ju|'hoansi which is spoken by the Ju|'hoan people, who reside in the Nyae Nyae area of Namibia. (Otjizondjupa Region) I have also started to do some work on !Xung, another Northern Khoisan language, in collaboration with Bonny Sands.

Ju|'hoansi Gutturals

My recent dissertation (funded by a National Science Foundation Dissertation grant) reports the results of a database study looking at the phonotactic constraints involving guttural consonants and vowels in the Khoisan language Ju|'hoansi. The database includes all of the speakers' isolated forms for all of the words found in Dicken's dictionary, as well as approximately 500 new root words, and many more complex forms. It also reports the results of a quantitative study looking at the acoustic similarity of guttural consonants and vowels, focusing on voice quality cues.

Ju|'hoansi Prosody


My work on the tonal system of Ju|'hoansi includes developing a decompositional approach to Khoisan tone, which differs from the contour tone analyses offered by earlier researchers. I demostrate that the reason for the limited number of tonal contour patterns on words can be accounted for by well understood constraints on adjacent tones within a root. I am also investigating the cooccurrence constraints on consonant and vowel phonation types within roots, and cooccurrence constraints on tones, consonant and vowel phonation types within roots. I have also undertaken a large phonetic study (4,400 tokens - 800 x 6 speakers)looking at the lexical tonal patterns in the language.

Phonological Patterning of Clicks


My work on clicks shows that there are two classes of clicks, front clicks and back clicks. The Back Vowel Constraint is shown to only effect back clicks (! and ||). I also show that the Back Vowel Constraint has two realizations. On the one hand, there is a constraint on lexical shapes which disallows front vowels following plain back consoants. On the other hand, there is a constraint which causes diphthongization, whereby the feature dorsal in secondarily articulated dorsal consonants spreads onto a following front vowel. Plain back clicks also undergo diphthongization, while front clicks do not. Plain dorsal consonants are subject to the constraint on lexical forms, but not the diphthongization process.

Comparative Phonetics & Phonology of Mangetti Dune !Xung


My work with Bonny Sands on Mangetti Dune !Xung focuses on comparative phonetics and phonology of the Northern Khoesan subfamily. We are particularly interested in the correspondences between different click types found between M.D. !Xung and Ju|'hoansi. These different correspondence patterns have prompted us to posit a new click type, which gives proto NK five original click types. We are currently working on phonetically documenting this new click type ( a forward released lateral click, |||) in languages where it still occurs, such as Mangetti Dune !Xung. We are also interested in correspondences between glottalized clicks and nasalized clicks in different languages, and tonal and phonation type correspondences.