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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Canadian French Vowel Harmony Add Dissertation
Author: Gabriel Poliquin Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Harvard University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2006
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology;
Subject Language(s): French
Director(s): Donca Steriade

Abstract: This thesis provides a phonological, psycholinguistic and phonetic
description of vowel harmony in Canadian French (CF), as well as a
theoretical account of the phenomenon showing that the CF facts may only be
accounted for in derivational frameworks that include the notion of
'cycle.' CF [ATR] vowel harmony is regressive, optional, and parasitic on
the feature [+high]. CF [ATR] harmony involves spreading of a [-ATR]
feature from a final [+high] vowel in a closed syllable to other [+high]
vowels within the same word that are in non-final open syllables (e.g.
[fi.lIp] or [fI.lIp] are both acceptable variants for 'Phillip'). The
thesis describes and explains the four key attributes of harmony in this

1) There is inter-speaker (and possibly intra-speaker) variation with
respect to whether harmony is applied locally and/or iteratively.
Variation with respect to these parameters leads to the existence of three
patterns of harmony, as evidenced by words of more than two syllables.
There is the local non-iterative pattern, e.g. [i.lI.sIt] 'illicit', the
non-local pattern, e.g. [] and the 'across-the-board' pattern

2) As shown in 1), there exists a pattern of non-local harmony, in which
the target vowel is separated from the trigger by another [+high] vowel.

3) Harmony is counterbled by a process of 'pre-fricative tensing,' which
leads to opaque allophony.

4) Harmony applies cyclically, but is then counterbled by another
'open-syllable tensing' process, which results in another case of opacity.
For example, harmony can apply in a word like [mY.zIk] ('music'), but if
we concatenate a resyllabifying suffix like [al], we obtain [mY.zi.kal]
('musical'). The initial [+high] vowel can be [-ATR], since harmony
applied in the stem, but the resyllabified trigger must be [+ATR], by an
open syllable tensing rule.

The thesis makes the following claim: CF vowel harmony shows very
compellingly that models of the phonological component must include
mechanisms accounting for non-local relations, derivational opacity and the
interaction between phonology and morphology.