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Old Albic Update: An autosegmental view of the vowel features

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Sunday, September 4, 2005, 20:18

Here's a brand-new snippet from my currently-under-construction
grammar of Old Albic.

The behaviour of vowel features in Old Albic can be aptly described
by an autosegmental approach. This means that the vowel features are
assumed to exist on a structural tier separate from the segmental tier.
The segmental tier contains the consonants and the vowel positions;
the vowel features exist on a tier on their own and bind not directly
to vowel positions but to morphemes (which also means that no morpheme
may have two vowels of different quality). In the phonetic realization,
the vowel features are associated with the vowel positions and thus
produce the vowels observed in actual speech. Umlaut and vowel harmony
involve spreading of vowel features to neighbouring morphemes.

Consider, for example, the word form _semelbesimil_, which is the
plural locative of _semelbas_ `wheat bread'. This word consists of
four morphemes: semel- `wheat', mbas- `bread' (the initial /m/ is
elided in the compound), -im `plural' and -°l `locative'.
On the segmental tier, the structure of the word is s°m°l-b°s-°m-°l.
The first morpheme has the features [+front] and [+open] attached
(giving semel-), the second morpheme [+open] (giving -bas-),
the third, [+front] (giving -im), while the last morpheme has
no vowel feature attached. The feature [+front] of the third
morpheme spreads leftward (i-umlaut) such that both [+open] and
[+front] attach to -b°s- giving -bes- and rightward (vowel harmony)
resulting in the locative ending realized as -il. Graphically:

[+open]  [+open]          [+open] [+open]
[+front]  |  [+front]     [+front] |  [+front]
   |      |     |            |     |  /  |  \
 s°m°l-  b°s-  -°m -°l --> s°m°l-  b°s- -°m -°l --> semel-bes-im-il

Comments and questions welcome.




David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>