|Title:||The Consonants of Gosiute|
|Abstract:||This dissertation is an analysis of the consonantal phonology of Gosiute,
a member of the Numic group of Uto-Aztecan languages. The Numic languages
are characterized by consonant alternations and distributional patterns
which are rooted in patterns of phonetic naturalness. In this dissertation
I provide an analysis of these patterns of distribution and alternation
within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993).
This dissertation accomplishes three things. First, it provides the most
detailed treatment to date of the consonant system of a Numic language.
Second, it demonstrates the efficacy of Grounding Theory (Archangeli and
Pulleyblank 1994) in the analysis of the consonantal patterns under
investigation. Third, it shows that Optimality Theory is up to the task
of providing a framework for the analysis of large portions of the
phonological system of a single language.
Chapter 1 situates Gosiute within the Uto-Aztecan language family and
provides an overview of the consonant alternations found Gosiute (known
in the Uto-Aztecan literature as Spirantization, Gemination, Nasalization,
and Aspiration). I provide an overview of Optimality Theory and the
Grounding Hypothesis (Archangeli and Pulleyblank 1994) and outline the
organization of the dissertation.
In chapter 2 I discuss the distribution of continuancy and voicing in
obstruents in Gosiute. Voiced obstruents occur intervocalically or
following nasals, voiceless ones occur elsewhere. Likewise, continuants
occur intervocalically while stops occur elsewhere. These simple facts,
which underlie the system of Gosiute consonant gradation, are readily
described and explained by positional grounding interacting with
context-free grounding and faithfulness requirements.
In chapter 3 I provide an introduction to the analysis of final features
in Gosiute. I discuss the distributional properties of final features and
examine Gemination in some detail. I show that there are arguments for
considering final features to be full segments rather than floating
features or "latent segments" (Zoll 1996). The argument for Gemination
consists in the featural content of the final feature itself. I propose
that Gemination consists of a root node specified [+consonantal] since
its effects are restricted to consonants.
In chapter 4 and 5 I give accounts of Nasalization and Aspiration in
Gosiute. Like Gemination, I argue that these final features are best
considered full segments rather than latent segments. The argument for
segmental status of these final features comes from their interaction
with the accusative suffix -a.
Chapter 6 is an examination of coronal alternations in Gosiute. Coronal
obstruents are found in distributional patterns which depend on the
presence or absence of a preceding front vowel. In the pattern I call
Fronting, alveolar stops alternate with dental stops--dental stops occur
following front vowels, while alveolar stops occur elsewhere. In the
pattern I call Palatalization, dental affricates alternate with palato-
alveolar affricates--palato-alveolar affricates occur following front
vowels, while dental affricates occur elsewhere. I argue that the
change in place of articulation involved in Fronting is a result of the
greater surface area of the tongue in contact with the roof of the mouth.
This alternation thus reduces to an alternation between laminals and
apicals, with laminals following front vowels and apicals occurring
elsewhere. Palatalization, on the other hand, is a change in stridency;
dental affricates are non-strident, while palato-alveolar affricates are
strident. Gosiute Fronting and Palatalization can thus be seen as a two
step chain shift: alveolar > dental > palato-alveolar. To capture the
chain shift of the Gosiute alternations requires the Local Conjunction
of constraints (Smolensky 1995, Kirchner 1996). Viewing the alternations
in this way confirms their relationship to each other--a relationship
suggested by the identity of their triggering environments--and provides
another argument in favor of the Local Conjunction of constraints as
part of the toolbox of Universal Grammar.
Chapter 7 offers some concluding remarks on theoretical implications
of the Gosiute data and their analysis in the areas of Grounding,
Richness of the Base, and the role of representations in OT.