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Title:A Minimal Triplet in Altaic: Round Licensing, Harmony, and Bisyllabic Triggers
Authors:Rachel Walker
Abstract:A Minimal Triplet in Altaic: Round Licensing, Harmony, and Bisyllabic Triggers

Rachel Walker

University of California, Santa Cruz

This paper presents an optimality-theoretic comparison of three round

vowel patterns in the Altaic family. At the core is an analysis of

bisyllabic trigger round harmony, a pattern uncovered in recent

investigation of Classical Manchu and Oroqen (Tungusic; Zhang 1996).

In these languages round spreading takes place only when the first two

syllables of a word are round. This study isolates two separate

properties of round vowel distribution in bisyllabic trigger patterns:

round licensing ([+round] must be linked to the initial syllable) and

round spreading. Bisyllabic triggers are derived through a constraint

interaction explored here, called 'Parasitic Constraint Satisfaction',

in which a given constraint loses to satisfaction of a dominating

constraint except when violation of that dominating constraint is

independently induced by a third higher-ranked constraint. In the

case of bisyllabic trigger round harmony, this kind of interaction is

achieved by ranking licensing and spreading separately with respect to

a tautosyllabicity constraint on features. More detailed examination

of the spreading and licensing requirements finds that they can be

analyzed solely in terms of markedness and faith constraints.

Positional identity (Beckman 1997) and markedness of feature

cooccurrences play a critical role, characterizing the special status

of the initial syllable and realizing height stratification of rounding

restrictions. The related patterns of simple round licensing and simple

round harmony, exhibited in two other Altaic languages (Classical

Mongolian and Ulcha), are produced by minimally distinct constraint

hierarchies, bearing out the predictions of factorial ranking.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1