In this article, we describe the phonological behavior of a unique series of fourteen language games in Arara, a Cariban language of Brazil. These are known mainly by elderly speakers only. The primary sociolinguistic function of the language games is to express solidarity and friendship with different pet animals, including dogs, birds, and various kinds of monkeys. Each language game is used when talking to or with a particular species of animal (or a closely related class of animals), and is characterized by a different formative (morpheme) added to the normal Arara base word. The formatives include prefixes, infixes, and autosegmentalized features such as nasalization and murmuring; some of these are not attested in the language other than in this context. We provide an informal analysis of the morphophonemic processes exhibited by a wide range of Arara forms to which each of the fourteen language games is applied in turn. We thereby document an interesting yet endangered aspect of the linguistic interaction between one specific group of indigenous people and their (potentially) nondomesticated pets.


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pp. 313-349
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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