Locality in Vowel Harmony (Linguistic Inquiry Monographs) by Andrew Nevins

By Andrew Nevins

A view of the locality stipulations on vowel concord, aligning empirical phenomena inside of phonology with the rules of the Minimalist application.

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Sample text

The instruction label for harmony in this case would read as follows: (18) Turkish nominalizing morpheme su‰x must: (empty) In other words, while it is a property of the plural morpheme that it must Back-Harmonize, showing up as either [-lar] or [-ler] depending on the value of the closest source to its left, this is not a property of the nominalizing morpheme /-gen/. It does not harmonize and is not a phonologically ‘‘needy’’ element, and little more needs to be said in the lexicon than that. In one possible way of looking at it, /-gen/ is an ‘‘exception’’ to vowel harmony, that is, a su‰x that does not ‘‘need’’ to undergo it.

The second half of the chapter explores the ways in which high-sonority elements may also close o¤ a search domain, acting as ‘‘hurdles,’’ and establishes an implicational generalization about sonority, based on Wolof, Classical Manchu, Hungarian, and Finnish low vowels. The broader consequences of this principles-and-parameters approach are that the vowel harmony systems of the world can be essentially reduced to one basic principle, with some parametric variables that can be filled in on a language-specific basis, and that what appear to be different, nuanced harmony systems from language to language reduce to variations on a core theme.

Ko¨y ko¨y-u¨ h. sg’ This type of dependency relation, in which one element’s form depends on features of another’s, is quite common across varying levels of linguistic structure. Consider verb agreement in Italian: in Tu sei andato ‘You have gone’, Gioia e` andata ‘Gioia has gone’, and I ragazzi sono andati ‘The boys have gone’, the verb shows a masculine singular, feminine singular, or masculine plural ending, depending on what the gender feature of the subject noun phrase is. Clearly we would not say that the gender or number of Gioia or i ragazzi depends on the ending of andato/andati/ andata; rather, it’s an asymmetric dependency relation in which the verbal element depends on the subject for its identity.

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