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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: The Role and Representation of Contrast in Phonological Theory Add Dissertation
Author: Daniel Hall Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Toronto, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2007
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology;
Director(s): B. Dresher

Abstract: This dissertation deals with the role of phonemic contrast in determining
the featural content of phonological relations, and with the relation
between phonemic and phonetic contrasts. Chapter one provides an
introduction to the contrastivist hypothesis, which holds that phonological
computation operates only on those features necessary to distinguish the
phonemes of a language from one another, and argues that the Continuous
Dichotomy Hypothesis of Dresher, Piggott, and Rice (1994) provides the best
means of identifying features as contrastive or redundant. The next two
chapters analyze data on voicing assimilation in Czech, Slovak, Polish, and
Russian (chapter 2), and on vowel harmony in Yowlumne and Pulaar (chapter
3) that present particular challenges to the contrastivist hypothesis; here
it is argued that although redundant features are sometimes crucially
present in phonological representations, they do not need to be
phonologically active. The data are analyzed using contrastive
specifications supplemented by the novel device of prophylactic features,
which are redundant features carrying information that is necessary for the
phonetic realization of segments, but not for the phonological computation
itself. Along the way, comparisons are drawn with analyses that incorporate
more detailed phonetic information into the phonological representations,
and the advantages of the underspecification approach are revealed. Chapter
4 considers the interaction between phonemic contrast and phonetic
distinctness in determining the shapes of phonological inventories. It
offers a critical view of some phonetically presents as an alternative a
view in which abstract and minimal phonological representations of phonemic
contrasts lead to phonetically distinct surface realizations through the
synchronic mechanism of phonetic enhancement and the diachronic influence
of the acquisition procedure. Finally, chapter 5 explores the degree to
which contrastive specification is compatible with Optimality Theory
(Prince and Smolensky 1993). Some of the insights of the contrastivist
hypothesis can be maintained in Optimality Theory through the translation
of a contrastive feature hierarchy into a constraint ranking, but
contrastive specification is ultimately at odds with the Optimality
Theoretic principle of Richness of the Base and the assumptions that
underlie it. The main points of the dissertation are summarized in chapter 6.