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Book Information


Title: Locality in Vowel Harmony
Written By: Andrew Nevins
Series Title: Linguistic Inquiry Monographs

Vowel harmony results from a set of restrictions that determine the possible
and impossible sequences of vowels within a word. The study of syntax
begins with the observation that the words of a sentence cannot go in just
any order, and the study of phonology begins with the same observation for
the consonants and vowels of a word. In this book, Andrew Nevins
investigates long-distance relations between vowels in vowel harmony
systems across a range of languages, with the aim of demonstrating that the
locality conditions that regulate these relations can be attributed to the same
principle that regulates long-distance syntactic dependencies. He argues that
vowel harmony represents a manifestation of the Agree algorithm for feature-
valuation (formulated by Chomsky in 2000), as part of an overarching effort to
show that phonology can be described in terms of the principles of the
Minimalist Program.

Nevins demonstrates that the principle of target-driven search, the
phenomenon of defective intervention, and the principles regulating the size
of the domain over which dependencies are computed apply to both
phonological and syntactic phenomena. Locality in Vowel Harmony offers
phonologists new evidence that viewing vowel harmony through the lens of
relativized minimality has the potential to unify different levels of linguistic
representation and different domains of empirical inquiry in a unified
framework. Moreover, Nevins's specific implementation of the locality of
dependencies represents a major advance in understanding constraints on
possible harmonic languages.

An online tool on the MIT Press Web site demonstrates the algorithm for
calculating vowel harmony with the derivations exemplified in the book.

Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: MIT Press
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Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0262140977
ISBN-13: 9780262140973
Pages: 272
Prices: U.S. $ 60

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0262513684
ISBN-13: 9780262513685
Pages: 272
Prices: U.S. $ 30