Humming, whistling, singing, and yelling in Pirahã context and channels of communication in FDG

Gareth O’Neill


This paper addresses the systematic influence of contextual factors on the form of linguistic utterances for the different speech channels of communication in Pirahã within the framework of Functional Discourse Grammar (FDG). It is shown that context plays an important role in the choice of a particular speech channel and the associated phonological or phonetic alteration of the underlying linguistic form. A representational system for the description of contextual factors which interact with the grammar and the influence of these contextual factors upon the grammar in Pirahã is then proposed within and elaborating upon the model of FDG. The implications of the speech channels in Pirahã for FDG and for linguistic theory in general are lastly examined.

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