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Koryak Vowel harmony (was Re: DECAL: Examples #2: Phonotactics)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 19, 2005, 20:33

On Tue, 18 Jan 2005 23:10:06 +0200,
Isaac Penzev <isaacp@...> wrote:

> [Koryak vowel harmony] > Sometimes vowels are changed according to harmony rules in affixes, but > sometimes roots (!) have two forms depending on the vowel in suffix: > _miml@n_ 'water.ABS' : _memle_ 'water.ERG' That's too evil for me!
Ah, Chukotko-Kamchatkan vowel harmony! It's not all that evil, it's a "dominant-recessive" system. One set of vowels, namely the low ones, is dominant above the other. If *one* morpheme contains the low vowels, the vowels in *all* morphemes get lowered. No matter if the morpheme with the low vowels is the root or not! Only if all morphemes have underlying high vowels, these actually surface as high vowels. At least, that is how I understand what I have read about it. And while we are at this: Joseph H. Greenberg, in his book _Indo-European and its Closest Relatives_, reconstructs this kind of high/low vowel harmony for Proto-Eurasiatic, claiming that it also underlies PIE e/o ablaut (and also e/i and o/u alternations he claims to see everywhere in Eurasian). I do not believe that. Greenberg surely was a brilliant typologist, but his contributions to historical linguistics are dubious. His "multilateral comparison" technique strikes me as something Samuel Johnson would have called "milking the bull" he resorts to because the comparative method cow does not give him enough milk. Greetings, Jörg.


Isaac Penzev <isaacp@...>