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
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.
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.
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