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Title:Canadian French Vowel Harmony
Authors:Gabriel Poliquin
Comment:Ph.D. dissertation, 2006 (Harvard University)
Abstract:This thesis provides a phonological, psycholinguistic and phonetic description of vowel harmony in Canadian French (CF), as well as a theoretical account of the phenomenon showing that the CF facts may only be accounted for in derivational frameworks that include the notion of 'cycle.' CF [ATR] vowel harmony is regressive, optional, and parasitic on the feature [+high]. CF [ATR] harmony involves spreading of a [-ATR] feature from a final [+high] vowel in a closed syllable to other [+high] vowels within the same word that are in non-final open syllables (e.g. [fi.lIp] or [fI.lIp] are both acceptable variants for 'Phillip'). The thesis describes and explains the four key attributes of harmony in this language:

1) There is inter-speaker (and possibly intra-speaker) variation with respect to whether harmony is applied locally and/or iteratively. Variation with respect to these parameters leads to the existence of three patterns of harmony, as evidenced by words of more than two syllables. There is the local non-iterative pattern, e.g. [i.lI.sIt] ('illicit'), the non-local pattern, e.g. [I.li.sIt] and the 'across-the-board' pattern [I.lI.sIt].

2) As shown in 1), there exists a pattern of non-local harmony, in which the target vowel is separated from the trigger by another [+high] vowel.

3) Harmony is counterbled by a process of 'pre-fricative tensing,' which leads to opaque allophony.

4) Harmony applies cyclically, but is then counterbled by another 'open-syllable tensing' process, which results in another case of opacity. For example, harmony can apply in a word like [mY.zIk] ('music'), but if we concatenate a resyllabifying suffix like [al], we obtain [mY.zi.kal] ('musical'). The initial [+high] vowel can be [-ATR], since harmony applied in the stem, but the resyllabified trigger must be [+ATR], by an open syllable tensing rule.

The thesis makes the following claim: CF vowel harmony shows very compellingly that models of the phonological component must include mechanisms accounting for non-local relations, derivational opacity and the interaction between phonology and morphology.
Article:Version 1