Autosegmental Phonology

J. Goldsmith, 1976

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A modification of the theory of generative phonology is suggested in this thesis in the introduction of parallel tiers of segments (or “autosegments).  This is shown, in the first chapter, to resolve certain formal and substantive problems in the current theory.  A detailed analysis of Igbo, a tone language of Nigeria, is presented in autosegmental terms in Chapter Two, as well as a new analysis of the phenomenon of “downstep” found in most African languages.  In Chapter Three, these notions are developed to account for stress and intonation patterns in English, and various accentual and non-accentual systems are dealt with as ways of co-ordinating the tonal and syllabic tiers of autosegments.  Work by G.N. Clements on vowel harmony is cited to support a more general account of autosegmental phonology.  Chapter Four presents a hypothesis for the origin of autosegmental phonology, suggesting that the inherent geometry at the phonetic level is “autosegmental”, but that language acquisition will include the task of “de-autosegmentalization”, which tends to collapse the multi-linear autosegmental geometry to a linear one at the lexical level.

Thesis Supervisor:         Morris Halle

Title:                             Professor of Linguistics


Table of Contents

Abstract                                                                                                                       2

Epigraph                                                                                                                       4

Preface                                                                                                                         5

Prelude – The Question of Suprasegmentals                                                                  11

Chapter One    An Overview                                                                                        28

            Notes                                                                                                               93

Chapter Two Igbo Tonology                                                                                         97

            Notes                                                                                                               185

Chapter Three  Melodic Association Rules                                                                    193

            Notes                                                                                                               260

Chapter Four    The Autosegmental Index                                                                      264

Bibliography                                                                                                                 276

Bibilographical Note                                                                                                     280