Amy Roe

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Keith L. Snider


Bora is a Witotoan language spoken in Peru and Colombia. It has an unusual mixed tone/stress system in which L is the specified tone and H the unspecified tone. In this thesis, I describe the underlying tone patterns of noun and verb roots and show how their surface representations change in different phonological environments. I examine noun stems with seven different suffixes and one prefix and verb stems with thirteen different suffixes.

Disyllabic noun roots have three surface tone patterns: L∅, ∅L, and ∅∅. Additionally, Bora has a low boundary tone that associates to the right edge of noun phrases. Verb roots are underlyingly toneless. However, verb stems with bound suffixes are assigned one of the following surface tone patterns based on their suffix: L∅, ∅L, or ∅∅. Bora also has a verbal boundary tone that associates to the right edge of verb stems. Affixes may be toneless, have underlying low tones, or have floating low tones.

In addition to the underlying tone patterns of morphemes, Bora assigns low tones to stressed syllables. One and two syllable words have stress on the penultimate syllable, while longer words have antepenultimate stress.

In Bora, the Obligatory Contour Principle restricts sequences of adjacent low tones. Bora exhibits three responses to OCP conflicts: L Merger, L Deletion, and L Delinking. The choice of OCP resolution is lexically and phonologically determined.

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