LINGUIST List 13.834

Tue Mar 26 2002

Diss: Phonology, Morphology: Kraemer "Vowel Harmony"

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. m.kraemer, Phonology, Morphology: Kraemer "Vowel Harmony & Correspondence Theory"

Message 1: Phonology, Morphology: Kraemer "Vowel Harmony & Correspondence Theory"

Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 04:56:19 +0000
From: m.kraemer <>
Subject: Phonology, Morphology: Kraemer "Vowel Harmony & Correspondence Theory"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf
Program: Seminar for General Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001
Author: Martin Kraemer 

Dissertation Title: 
Vowel Harmony and Correspondence Theory

Linguistic Field: 
Phonology, Morphology

Dissertation Director 1: Dieter Wunderlich 
Dissertation Director 2: Richard Wiese 
Dissertation Director 3: Janet Grijzenhout 

Dissertation Abstract: 

The aim of this thesis is twofold. One goal is to give a broad
overview of the patterns of vowel harmony that can be found in the
world's languages. The second and central goal is to give a unified
account of these patterns within Optimality Theory (henceforth OT,
Prince & Smolensky 1993) and its extension to Correspondence
Theory (McCarthy & Prince 1995).

With respect to the second aim the question is justified why this
should be necessary, given the large amount of research that has been
done on vowel harmony within the framework of OT in recent years. In
all optimality-theoretic accounts of vowel harmony a rich inventory of
theoretical devices has been applied and developed to explain various
aspects of vowel harmony like vowel transparency, cyclicity and
phonological opacity, relating to the question whether OT can be
maintained as a non-derivational parallelist framework. I claim that
this theoretical wealth is unnecessary and propose an account of the
relevant patterns in terms of local constraint coordination (Crowhurst
& Hewitt 1997, Ito & Mester 1999, Lubowicz 1999, Smolensky 1993, and
others) and positional faithfulness (Beckman 1995, 1997, 1998). The
phenomenon of vowel harmony proves an especially fruitful field for
the application and further development of the theory of local
constraint coordination, since it reveals some of the limits of
constraint interaction and how these interactions and their
restrictions can be motivated on external grounds. Moreover, this
thesis gives additional arguments for the treatment of assimilation as
syntagmatic correspondence (Kraemer 1998, 1999, 2001).

The thesis is divided in two large parts. First, I will give an
overview of vowel harmony patterns (chapter 1), showing in particular
that we have to add the pattern of affix controlled harmony to the
typology of vowel harmony. After this I will introduce the
fundamentals of Optimality and Correspondence Theory (chapter 2). The
introductory section is completed by the basic outline of my own
proposal (chapter 3). In the second part I will apply the proposed
theory to a range of languages. Each case study is intended to
contribute a specific piece to the puzzle. Yoruba, Turkish, and Degema
show us how stem control works in languages with prefixation,
suffixation, and both types of affixation, respectively. They provide
insights into the intertwining of phonological faithfulness and
morphological organisation. In Diola Fogni, this morpho-phonological
interaction is broadly ignored by the phonology itself. Futankoore
Pulaar is an illustration for the existence of the mirror image of
stem control, affix controlled harmony, which was considered as
unattested in the literature. To account for this pattern we have to
assume a ranking of affix faithfulness above root faithfulness in the
grammar of Pulaar, a ranking which was assumed to be non-existent by
McCarthy & Prince (1995). Finnish and Wolof are two well-known cases
of vowel transparency, one displaying backness harmony, the other
tongue root harmony. Transparency is analysed as an effect of a local
constraint conjunction of OCP and harmony constraints. Finally,
Hungarian, Yoruba, Nez Perce, and Yawelmani all contribute a different
aspect of phonological opacity to the multifarious picture. In all
these languages the underlying form of vowels, though deviant from
their surface form has an impact on the surface representation of
their environment.
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