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Locality in Vowel Harmony

Andrew Nevins

Publication Year: 2010

A view of the locality conditions on vowel harmony, aligning empirical phenomena within phonology with the principles of the Minimalist program.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Linguistic Inquiry Monographs

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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Series Foreword

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pp. vii-viii

We are pleased to present the fifty-fifth in the series Linguistic Inquiry Monographs. These monographs present new and original research beyond the scope of the article. We hope they will benefit our field by bringing to it perspectives that will stimulate further research and insight. ...

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pp. ix-x

There is a kind of poetry and elegance in the rules governing the way words are formed. It is a thrill to see how languages around the globe conform to these rules of how the vowels in a word fall into place. In my discovery of the principles and parameters of vowel harmony, ...


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pp. xi-xii

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1. What Is Vowel Harmony, How Does It Vary, and Why Study It?

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pp. 1-22

It’s common when typing an e-mail that our fingers hit the wrong key, and a savvy spell-checker underlines the misspelled word in red. Suppose I’m writing about the rodent protagonist of an animated film and make a mistake in typing rat. ...

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2. The Search Principle

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pp. 23-68

Assimilation refers to any process whereby features from one segment are copied to another, making the recipient segment ‘‘more like’’ the donor segment. For example, the casual pronunciation of in Boston is im Boston, where the expected nasal consonant with an alveolar place of articulation is instead pronounced with a bilabial place of articulation. ...

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3. Contrastiveness, Markedness, and Feature-Based Locality

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pp. 69-120

The Search procedure introduced in chapter 2 finds and copies needed feature-values from the closest element in the search domain. An important source of crosslinguistic variation in delimiting the search domain results from language-specific reference to two paradigmatic properties defined by the inventory of sounds in the language. ...

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4. Defective Intervention: When Search Comes Back Empty-Handed

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pp. 121-148

We have seen that the Search procedure for vowel harmony can relativize its locality in very limited ways, according to a small parametric space. The establishment of the search domain leads to an extremely myopic principle of copying from the closest element encountered. ...

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5. Domain Limitations on Search

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pp. 149-190

Imagine you’re on a search. Locality (i.e., when you stop searching) has two components: minimality (stopping at the closest potential element) and boundedness (an extrinsically defined limit on how far you can go in your search). ...

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6. Minimalist Computation of Vowel Harmony: Implications

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pp. 191-208

We are now ready to review and highlight the broader theoretical relevance of the formal model of vowel harmony developed in previous chapters. As the discussion proceeds, I will attempt to identify areas of potential future collaboration with other branches of linguistics and cognitive science. ...


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pp. 209-222


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pp. 223-238

Index of Terms

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pp. 239-242

Index of Languages

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pp. 243-244

Further Reading

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E-ISBN-13: 9780262280570
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262513685

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Linguistic Inquiry Monographs