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LINGUIST List 18.2088

Tue Jul 10 2007

Diss: Phonetics/Phonology: Linebaugh: 'Phonetic Grounding and Phono...'

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        1.    gary linebaugh, Phonetic Grounding and Phonology: Vowel backness harmony and vowel height harmony

Message 1: Phonetic Grounding and Phonology: Vowel backness harmony and vowel height harmony
Date: 10-Jul-2007
From: gary linebaugh <linebauguiuc.edu>
Subject: Phonetic Grounding and Phonology: Vowel backness harmony and vowel height harmony

Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Gary Linebaugh

Dissertation Title: Phonetic Grounding and Phonology: Vowel backness harmony and vowel height harmony

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Dissertation Director:
Jennifer Cole

Dissertation Abstract:

Many common phonological patterns are grounded in phonetic processes. In
this dissertation, I argue that the phonetic principles ease of
articulation and vowel-to-vowel (V-V) coarticulation are factors in the
development of vowel harmony. Listeners fail to compensate for the
unintended variation introduced by V-V coarticulation and the natural
tendency to reduce effort, and as a result, pronunciation norms are
changed. Experiments described in this dissertation reveal that the effects
of these factors are asymmetrical with respect to influences on vowel
backness harmony (VBH) and vowel height harmony (VHH). VBH facilitates
speech production in a way that VHH does not, and variation introduced by
vowel-to-vowel coarticulation is highly systematic with respect to the
effects on F2, but less systematic in terms of the effects on F1. The
asymmetry in the experimental findings is matched by typological
asymmetries between VBH and VHH. VBH is a robust and pervasive type of
harmony, while VHH is more constrained. The consistency in the experimental
findings and typological observations lead me to conclude that vowel
harmony is shaped by the phonetic factors ease of articulation and V-V

I further conclude that the difference between VBH and VHH indicates that
phonological approaches that model vowel harmony as spreading or agreement
of features are inadequate. Within those models, there is no prediction
that VBH and VHH should be fundamentally different. Typological patterns of
harmony are influenced by phonetic processes of speech. It is not necessary
to assume phonological patterns are shaped by innate features or innate
constraints. It is possible that features and constraints exert influence
in the shaping of phonological patterns, but such influence is redundant.
Occam's Razor suggests there is no need to rely on features and constraints
when it comes to explaining patterns that are explicable through reference
to phonetics.

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