The Representation of Features and Relations in Non-linear Phonology

E. C. Sagey, 1986

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In this thesis, I propose the following hierarchical representation for the distinctive features of phonology.






constr. glottis

            spread glottis                          soft palate                               place

                        stiff v.c.                   

                                    slack v.c.         nasal                labial    coronal            dorsal

                                                                                    round   anterior high low back


This hierarchy is based on phonetics: Features are grouped according to the articulator in the vocal tract that they are executed by. Articulators are grouped according to their acoustic effects on the formant structure.

The hierarchy, which is proposed to be universal, allows a straightforward account of the complex phenomena that surround multiply-articulated segments, such as labiovelars, labiocoronals, coronovelars (e.g. clicks), and labialized, palatalized, or velarized consonants. This type of segment, with unordered or simultaneous multiple articulations, I refer to as a complex segment. The theory of representation I propose makes it possible to represent all the complex segments that occur, and provides an explanation of why those complex segments that occur are possible in a language, as well as of why those that do not occur are impossible. Furthermore, it makes possible an account of the derivation of complex segments, where they are derived, and of their behavior with respect to phonological processes. In addition, the proposed theory of representation is shown to account for unrelated phenomena in languages without complex segments, which provides independent support and shows that the representation is universal, rather than particular to complex segment languages.

In Chapters 1 and 2, I argue for the hierarchical feature groupings shown above. (The root, laryngeal, supralaryngeal, and place constituents were proposed by Mohanan (1983) and Clements (1985).) I demonstrate that the only complex segments that occur are those combining two or more of the hierarchical constituents: labial, coronal, dorsal. I argue, based on timing, syllabification, reduplication, compensatory lengthening, prenasalization, and nasal assimilation, that complex segments occupy single x-slots, and furthermore that the multiple articulations in complex segments must be represented within a single place node. Complex segments are contrasted with contour segments, in that the latter involve sequences of articulations within a single segment " a distinction which determines the different behavior of complex and contour segments with respect to phonological rules. Furthermore, I show that the structure within the place node required by complex segments finds independent support in languages without complex segments. For example, the structure allows us to account for patterns of blocking and transparency in harmony systems. Thus, the structure within the place node is a universal property of the representation of distinctive features, rather than just a peculiarity of complex-segment languages.

In Chapter 3, I propose a mechanism for assigning the degree of closure features [continuant, consonantal] to the articulators that execute them. This representation of degree of closure features is necessary in order to account for the behaviors of complex segments, and furthermore allows degree of closure in complex segments to be represented identiically to that in simple segments. The modifications of the feature representation that are necessary to represent and account for the behavior of complex segments lead to a concise characterization of the possible complex segments in human language.

In Chapter 4, I redefine the distinctive features (i.e. the terminal nodes in the hierarchy) in light of the proposal made in Chapters 1, 2, and 3, and I define the non-terminal nodes in the hierarchy.

Chapter 5 contains a further demonstration of the possibility of explaining phonology in terms of external factors. I demonstrate that the association lines among features and x-slots that connect all the tiers in the hierarchy must represent the relation of overlap in time, and I show that when they are correctly defined as representing overlap, the ill-formedness of crossing association lines follows from the relations represented in a phonological representation, together with knowledge of the world, and need not be stipulated as well-formedness condition in UG.

Finally, in Chapter 6, I discuss two aspects of phonetic representation that are made possible by the view of phonological representations taken in Chapters 1 through 5 " degrees of closure of individual articulators and subsegmental timing.

Thesis supervisor:      Morris Halle

Title:                           Institute Professor

Table of Contents

Chapter 1        Introduction                                                                                        9

            1.1       Non-linear representation                                                                   19

            1.2       Feature groupings                                                                               25

                        1.2.1    Laryngeal and supralaryngeal nodes                                       31

                        1.2.2    Place node                                                                               37

                        1.2.3    Root node                                                                               40

                        1.2.4    Manner features                                                                      45

            1.3       Contour segments                                                                               49

            1.4       Overview                                                                                            52

Appendix        Notation                                                                                              54

Chapter 2        Complex Segments and Place Feature Geometry                               56

            2.1       Structure within the place node: articulator nodes                             57

            2.2       Articulatory independence " possible complex segments                  63

            2.3       Clusters vs. contour or complex segments                                         69

                        2.3.1    Syllable structure                                                                    69

                        2.3.2    Compensatory lengthening                                                     73

                        2.3.3    Urhobo nasal harmony                                                           76

                        2.3.4    Timing                                                                                     78

                           Prenasalized stops                                                      80

                           Affricates                                                                    81

                           Labiovelars                                                                  83

                        2.3.5    Reduplication and association to the skeleton                        85

                        2.3.6    Lack of gemination                                                                  88

                        2.3.7    Dan (Santa)                                                                             90

            2.4       Contour vs. complex segments " ordered vs. unordered                    92

                        2.4.1    Contour segments                                                                   93

                        2.4.2    Complex segments                                                                  99

                           Nasal assimilation and prenasalization                       100

                           Spreading and "metathesis"                                         105

                           !Xoo clicks                                                                  126

            2.5       Phonological processes applying to articulator nodes                        131

                        2.5.1    Coronal articulator node                                                         132

                           Sanskrit N-retroflexion                                               132

                           English coronal assimilation                                        135

                           Karanga labio-corono-velar simplification                  136

                        2.5.2    Labial articulator node                                                137

                           Tulu vowel rounding                                                   137

                           Chukchee                                                                    139

                           Nootka                                                                                    141

                           Relation between labial and round                              141

                        2.5.3    Dorsal articulator node                                                           145

                           Fanti                                                                            146

                           Vowel harmony                                                          147

            2.6       Impossible feature dependencies                                                        148

            2.7       Summary                                                                                             150

Chapter 3        Degree of Closure Features                                                                 151

            3.1       Place features are independent of degree of closure                            151

            3.2       Degree of closure in multiply-articulated segments                            153

                        3.2.1    Hottentot                                                                                156

                           Influxes                                                                       159

                           Effluxes                                                                       162

                        3.2.2    Margi                                                                                      175

                        3.2.3    !Xu                                                                                          191

            3.3       Major and minor articulators                                                              199

                        3.3.1    Nupe                                                                                       209

                        3.3.2    Shona                                                                                      218

                        3.3.3    Kinyarwanda                                                                          227

                        3.3.4    Fula                                                                                         240

            3.4       Comparison of major/minor distinction with alternatives                  247

                        3.4.1    Separate degree of closure for each articulator                        248

                        3.4.2    Suction/pressure of movement features                                  252

                           Ejectives and implosives                                             253

                           Clicks                                                                          257

            3.5       Further applications of major/minor                                                   260

                        3.5.1    Ngbaka                                                                                    260

                        3.5.2    Margi                                                                                      266

                        3.5.3    Palatalization and distribution of velars in Hottentot            267

            3.6       Summary                                                                                             272

Chapter 4        Phonological Features                                                                         273

            4.1       Class features                                                                                      273

            4.2       Terminal features                                                                                277

            4.3       Residue                                                                                               280

Chapter 5        Association Lines                                                                               282

            5.1       Introduction                                                                                        282

            5.2       Relations and representations                                                             284

                        5.2.1    Precedence                                                                              284

                        5.2.2    Association lines                                                                     285

            5.3       Eliminating the well-formedness condition                                         294

            5.4       Comparison with Goldsmith"s formalization                                     297

            5.5       Conclusion                                                                                          300

Chapter 6        Phonetic Representations                                                                   302

            6.1       Degree of closure of minor articulators                                               304

            6.2       Subsegmental timing                                                                           310