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Maximal flexibility with self-segregating morphology

From:Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>
Date:Monday, September 8, 2008, 17:01
On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 9:53 AM, R A Brown <ray@...> wrote:
> ...and a third method might be along the lines John Cowan outlined for > xuxuxi: > > {quote} > xuxuxi uses vowel harmony/disharmony to resolve the problem. > All multi-syllable words are stressed on the first syllable, > and then the other syllables of the word, except the last, > have vowel harmony. The last syllable of the word has disharmony. > Any remaining syllables before the next stressed syllable are > monosyllabic. > > Here's the harmony/disharmony table: > > first medial last > a a, e, o i, u > e a, e, i o, u > i a, e, i o, u > o a, o, u i, e > u a, o, u i, e > > So a in the first syllable triggers height harmony, and all other vowels > trigger front/back harmony. > {/quote} > > See: >
And some extra from the link: Gary Shannon scripsit:
>... > I've always favored open syllables. They are neat and > tidy and east to synthesize. But there's a parsing > probelem with the spoken language.
> So here's the solution that occured to me as I was > dozing off last night: > > Words take the form CVV or VCVV or CVCVV or VCVCVV or > CVCVCVV or VCVCVCVV, etc., where the final syllable > must always have a vowel pair and no other syllable in > a word is permitted to have a vowel pair.
This sounds like a good plan. And since it depends entirely on a marking at the end of a word to accomplish word-segregation, there's no inherent restriction on consonant clusters internal to the word, which provides a bit of extra freedom. But what if we *want* word-internal vowel sequences? The harmony system has no problem with vowel sequences, but it restricts the number of ways you can mix vowels in words, and the final-pair system has no problem with mixing up the entire vowel inventory, but it has issues with internal sequences. Combining the two, however, we can get a system that has the strengths of both- Rather than using any pair of vowels to mark the end of a word, what about having classes of vowels, with particular class pairings being reserved for boundary-marking, but leaving other pairing free for use internally? The classes don't have to based on harmony, but that seems a natural choice. Rather than all vowels except the last harmonizing with the first in a word, you could have all vowel pairs being harmonious or all disharmonious except the last. This also opens up more freedom with affixing, because the internal vowels of a word won't have to change to re-harmonize with the new initials or new terminals provided by affixes. Thus, you can use any single vowels you want internally, and you can use some types of vowel sequences. It occurs to me also that the final-pair marking system without initial vowels is essentially equivalent to a surrounding-vowel system, where all words start and end with a vowel, except that each initial vowel is shifted backwards by one word. But with the final-pair system we can still have words starting with vowels if we want, and even starting with sequences of vowels after restricting the class of final pairs. This has potentially fun implications for sandhi, which might trigger elisions or insertion of extra dividing consonants depending on the relation between the final vowels of one word and the initials of the next. We can even still have words ending in consonants after the final pair if there's a restriction on what consonants can appear word-initially, so as we don't get confused as to whether the ending consonant does belong at the end of the last word or the beginning of the next. Even without such a restriction, though, we can have some artistic fun by still putting in normally-unpronounced final consonants, as in French, that become pronounced when the following word meets certain conditions (those extra diving consonants I mentioned). They don't carry any additional information, so it doesn't matter which word they get parsed as being assigned to (as long as they don't produce confusing homophony on the following word). Altogether, this results in the most flexible self-segregating morphological system I have yet seen (although, it only addresses segregating words, rather than individual morphemes, but a word-internal segregation system could be superimposed fairly easily). -l.


Larry Sulky <larrysulky@...>
Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>
Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>