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Dissertation Information

Title: Tungusic Vowel Harmony: Description and analysis Add Dissertation
Author: Bing Li Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Amsterdam, Institute of General Linguistics
Completed in: 1996
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology;
Subject Language(s): Evenki
Director(s): Harry van der Hulst
Norval Smith
Pieter Muysken

Abstract: The dissertation presents a systematic and detailed description of Tungusic vowel harmony systems, including Orochen, Classical Manchu and two modern Manchu dialects. Part of the data presented is from original fieldwork. Relevant data from other Tungusic languages such as Solon, Nanaj and Evenky are also provided for comparative purposes. Based on the descriptive data, it is argued that the canonical Tungunsic vowel harmony is characterized by the phonological feature of RTR (Retracted Tongue Root).

The basic facts of vowel harmony in Tungusic languages are analyzed in the frameworks of Dependency Phonology and Optimality Theory. Such general formal properties of VH as transparency, opacity and directionality are discussed in the context of RTR and Rounding harmony in Tungusic languages. It is argued that RTR harmony as a distinctive type differs from ATR harmony. The differences in formal properties, particulary in transparency and opacity of neutral vowels, between two types of harmony results from the interaction of constraints relevant to articulatory mechanisms and those of phonological formalism.