Event Title

Tones In Cuban Yoruba: A Ritual Language

Location

SU 003

Start Date

19-4-2019 11:20 AM

Department

Linguistics

Session

Session 3

Description

The purpose of this study is to detect and measure lexical tone production of Cuban Yorùbá speakers within the greater Regla de Ocha and Ifá (RDOI) community in Cuba. Cuban Yorùbá, often referred to as Lucumí, is a remnant variety of Yorùbá currently used as a ritual or religious language in Cuba’s RDOI community. Outside of the RDOI community lexical remnants can be found in the Cuban variety of Spanish and popular Cuban music. Within the RDOI community, Cuban Yorùbá is currently learned as second language and used in songs, chants, prayers and poems. Due to language attrition and contact with Spanish and various African dialects, Cuban Yorùbá and Standard Yorùbá vary lexically and phonologically. In situations of contact and attrition, tone is oftentimes lost (Yeh &Lin, 2015; Quam & Creel, 2017). Nevertheless, tones have been observed in the remnants of African languages of other communities in Cuba (Sogbossi, 1998;1993) and Trinidad (Warner-Lewis,1991; 1997). Individuals learning Standard Yorùbá as a second language for religious purposes have also been found to learn and properly produce tones (Ola Orie, 2006). This study seeks to find out if High, Medium and Low Yorùbá tones have been maintained in the melodic and spoken Cuban Yorùbá used within the greater RDOI religious community as they have in the Arará (Matanzas, Cuba) and Rada (Trinidad) religious communities. Two spoken and two melodic language samples of Cuban musicians using Cuban Yorùbá will be collected from Youtube.com. With the aid of native Standard Yorùbá speakers and Standard Yorùbá dictionaries, recordings will be transcribed and translated. Using Standard Yorùbá as a guide, expected Cuban Yorùbá tone production will be presented syllabically for comparison to tones produced in the sound samples. Using the phonetic computer program Pratt, I will measure the presence of tones in melodic and spoken Cuban Yorùbá samples and analyze tone production patterns. Because of Ola Orie’s (2006) positive tone production outcomes for Standard Yorùbá students who received oral and melodic instruction for religious purposes and the fact that Cuban Yorùbá has been instructed orally in the RDOI community for generations, I expect to detect high, medium and low tones in melodic Cuban Yorùbá and partial tone production in spoken Cuban Yorùbá. The results of this study will contribute to the body of ethnographic and ethnolinguistic research on Cuban Yorùbá /Lucumí, the RDOI community, and the linguistic and cultural legacy of African people in Cuba and Latin America. It will also contribute to linguistic research on tonal languages in contact situations, tonal languages and music, L2 Acquisition of tonal languages and instructional methodology of Yorùbá and other tonal languages. Beyond linguistics, the cultural significance of this study will contribute to Musicology, African- Diaspora studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Cuban Cultural Studies, World Religion Studies and World Language Education.

Comments

Lewis Gebhardt is the faculty sponsor for this project.

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Apr 19th, 11:20 AM

Tones In Cuban Yoruba: A Ritual Language

SU 003

The purpose of this study is to detect and measure lexical tone production of Cuban Yorùbá speakers within the greater Regla de Ocha and Ifá (RDOI) community in Cuba. Cuban Yorùbá, often referred to as Lucumí, is a remnant variety of Yorùbá currently used as a ritual or religious language in Cuba’s RDOI community. Outside of the RDOI community lexical remnants can be found in the Cuban variety of Spanish and popular Cuban music. Within the RDOI community, Cuban Yorùbá is currently learned as second language and used in songs, chants, prayers and poems. Due to language attrition and contact with Spanish and various African dialects, Cuban Yorùbá and Standard Yorùbá vary lexically and phonologically. In situations of contact and attrition, tone is oftentimes lost (Yeh &Lin, 2015; Quam & Creel, 2017). Nevertheless, tones have been observed in the remnants of African languages of other communities in Cuba (Sogbossi, 1998;1993) and Trinidad (Warner-Lewis,1991; 1997). Individuals learning Standard Yorùbá as a second language for religious purposes have also been found to learn and properly produce tones (Ola Orie, 2006). This study seeks to find out if High, Medium and Low Yorùbá tones have been maintained in the melodic and spoken Cuban Yorùbá used within the greater RDOI religious community as they have in the Arará (Matanzas, Cuba) and Rada (Trinidad) religious communities. Two spoken and two melodic language samples of Cuban musicians using Cuban Yorùbá will be collected from Youtube.com. With the aid of native Standard Yorùbá speakers and Standard Yorùbá dictionaries, recordings will be transcribed and translated. Using Standard Yorùbá as a guide, expected Cuban Yorùbá tone production will be presented syllabically for comparison to tones produced in the sound samples. Using the phonetic computer program Pratt, I will measure the presence of tones in melodic and spoken Cuban Yorùbá samples and analyze tone production patterns. Because of Ola Orie’s (2006) positive tone production outcomes for Standard Yorùbá students who received oral and melodic instruction for religious purposes and the fact that Cuban Yorùbá has been instructed orally in the RDOI community for generations, I expect to detect high, medium and low tones in melodic Cuban Yorùbá and partial tone production in spoken Cuban Yorùbá. The results of this study will contribute to the body of ethnographic and ethnolinguistic research on Cuban Yorùbá /Lucumí, the RDOI community, and the linguistic and cultural legacy of African people in Cuba and Latin America. It will also contribute to linguistic research on tonal languages in contact situations, tonal languages and music, L2 Acquisition of tonal languages and instructional methodology of Yorùbá and other tonal languages. Beyond linguistics, the cultural significance of this study will contribute to Musicology, African- Diaspora studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Cuban Cultural Studies, World Religion Studies and World Language Education.