Aspects of Maga Rukai phonology

Date of Completion

January 2000


Language, Linguistics




This dissertation is a study of the phonological aspects of Maga Rukai, one of the Austronesian languages spoken in Taiwan. This language displays a number of intriguing properties. For instance, the syncope process and the stress assignment are built on different prosodic structures; the mid vowels are derived from deleted segments; and the epenthetic vowel shows echoing effect with the stem vowel. ^ The goal of this thesis is twofold: to present a full-scale description of the prominent issues of Maga phonology, and to look into these topics with current theories, so that adequate explanations can be obtained for the observed phenomena. It is demonstrated in the current research that through a synchronic perspective, we achieve not only theoretical explanations for individual alternations, but also a unified mechanism that underlies the various processes of the language. Specifically, it is shown in this work that in order to achieve an elegant and adequate analysis of the Maga facts we need to rely on derivations, and in particular on an extrinsic ordering of the different processes. ^ The dissertation contains five chapters. Chapter one provides the background information of the language and the people, a review of previous literature, and the theoretical framework within which the present study is conducted. Chapters 2 details the phonological inventory and the characteristic phenomena of Maga phonology. In particular, I show the interaction among the processes characterizing this language, and that a proper ordering of them in a derivation is the key to successfully deriving correct output. Chapter 3 demonstrates how these phonological alternations interact with morphological processes such as affixation and reduplication. A cross-linguistic comparison is made in Chapter 4 between Maga and Tsou concerning the difference of their tolerance on homorganic clusters and geminates. It is argued that this difference provides evidence to the syllabification of surface structure of Maga. Chapter 5 illustrates the proposed analyses by demonstrating the interaction of the processes in relevant derivations. ^