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Re: NATLANG: Vowel harmony rules?

From:David Peterson <thatbluecat@...>
Date:Thursday, June 24, 2004, 19:36
A general reply first: I think I misunderstood *much* of what you said in
your original posts, and I think a lot of this had to do with language
interference.   So, I'm sorry about that.

Tamas wrote:

<<The second one was a clue: What are the statistical
characteristics of the verbs having lexical attribute [+lowering]?
It was not for the science, it was for the questioner, who did not
study Turkish, to have an overall impression of the extent of the

Yes, see, that I agree with, so obviously I just misunderstood what
you wrote.

<<Rule 1 gets it input from the lexicon, i.e. the headword
information of the actual word. In the lexicon every headwords have
a value of the [* plural_affix] := { ['N' plural_affix],  ['S'
plural_affix], ...} attribute:

  <plural_affix> -> <n-suffix> / ['N' plural_affix]_ , or
                    <s-suffix> / ['S' plural_affix]_ , ...

  Rule 2 works on the result "stem + <n-suffix>", "stem + <s-
suffix>", etc. of Rule 1. The other input of Rule 2 can be either
the lexicon or the phonological structure, it does not matter. The
significant is the approach: a set of rules evolve the surface
forms from underlying forms based on phonological features, lecical
attributes, etc., but not by "accidents".>>

Ah.   I think we've entered the realm of notational variance.   That is,
how I would handle the above is theoretically different, but produces
the same effect.   Your rules above essentially say that there is a plural
marker which has different forms.   That is, the information of plurality
is encoded in the separate affixes.   I'd look at it this way: Every noun
belongs to a paradigm.   If a word is expressed, it begins with certain
information.   So plurality is not encoded by any phonological bit: It's
in the head of the speaker, so to speak.   If a speaker wishes to express
a noun in the plural, then there are index rules which will basically tell
the speaker where to look.   So if "ox" is Class N, then the plural cell will
be filled with "oxen".   The rule, then, would simply be to illustrate what
the plural form of a Class N noun looks like.   At no time, however, is
there any meaning associated with the "-en" suffix.

Both of our approaches will work fine for English plurals.   For the Turkish
aorist, though, they differ.   Under your approach, there would be three (I
think) different suffixes which all meant "aorist".   In mine, there is no 
thing.   All the rules do, then, is specify what the exponence of a given 
is.   For that reason, there are three spellout rules.   The first is if a 
form ends
in a vowel, the aorist of that form will be "stem+r".   The second says that 
a word is monosyllabic and of Class A and C-final, it'll be "stem+Ar".   The
final rule says "otherwise, stem+Ir".

Under *my* formulation, the form "-Ar" is an accident.   It could've been
anything.   However, I think this is a fine generalization to capture, 
it *could* have been anything.   The reason is that when you look at a
language, you generally don't consider its history, or surrounding languages.
So just because something is regular and productive in related languages, or
even in the language your studying at an earlier period in time, that's no
reason to say that speakers have synchronic knowledge of what now looks
like a totally irregular phenomenon.   That's what I meant.   And now I 
where, at least, we disagree, and I also realize it'll probably stay that 
Nevertheless, at least (I think) I get what you're saying.

"sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison