LINGUIST List 16.624

Wed Mar 02 2005

Diss: Phonetics/Phonology: Przezdziecki: 'Vowel ...'

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        1.    Marek Przezdziecki, Vowel Harmony and Coarticulation in Three Dialects of Yoruba: Phonetics Determining Phonology


Message 1: Vowel Harmony and Coarticulation in Three Dialects of Yoruba: Phonetics Determining Phonology

Date: 25-Feb-2005
From: Marek Przezdziecki <map18cornell.edu>
Subject: Vowel Harmony and Coarticulation in Three Dialects of Yoruba: Phonetics Determining Phonology


Institution: Cornell University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Marek Przezdziecki

Dissertation Title: Vowel Harmony and Coarticulation in Three Dialects of Yoruba: Phonetics Determining Phonology

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
                            Phonology

Subject Language(s): Yoruba (YOR)
Language Family(ies): Niger-Congo

Dissertation Director:
Abigail C Cohn

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines the phonology and acoustic phonetics of vowels
in three dialects of Yoruba--Standard Yoruba, Moba, and Akure Yoruba--to
investigate the role of coarticulation in the phonologization of vowel
harmony (Ohala 1994). The phonological vowel patterns of the three dialects
are presented. Àkùré Yorùbá exhibits Advanced Tongue Root (ATR) vowel
harmony in mid and high vowels, while harmony in Mòbà and Standard Yorùbá
does not extend to high vowels. In order to investigate this relationship,
recordings of VCV nonsense words from speakers of each dialect were
analyzed. Following Hess (1992), the first formant (F1) was determined to
be the acoustic measurement best correlated to the ±ATR vowel sets. Other
measurements--F2, F1 bandwidth, fundamental frequency, vowel duration, and
spectral measures--were not found to correlate with ATR. Using F1 as a
measure, vowel to vowel coarticulation in high vowels in Mòbà and Standard
Yorùbá was found to resemble high vowel harmony in Àkùré in the target
vowels, the context, and the phonetic effect. This was particularly true
for /i/; however the coarticulatory effects on /u/ were weaker and not
statistically significant. As expected, the effect of vowel to vowel
coarticulation in Mòbà and Standard Yorùbá was smaller and less robust than
for vowel harmony in Àkùré. A decision tree model is proposed that is able
to generate the high vowel harmony pattern from the Àkùré acoustic data.
More interestingly, the model succeeds at extracting--to a large
degree--the high vowel harmony pattern from Mòbà and Standard Yorùbá, the
dialects without high vowel harmony. The model does not require any
reference to features or natural classes, suggesting that it is not
necessary to posit features as a prerequisite to learning a phonological
pattern, nor as an explanation for universal patterns. The study argues
that the acoustic patterns found in vowel to vowel coarticulation are
sufficient to result in vowel harmony. The findings are consistent with the
view that proto-Yorùbá did not have harmony in its high vowels (Fresco
1970, Oyelaran 1973, and Capo 1985), and that high vowel harmony developed
in Àkùré and related dialects.



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