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Title:A theory of subfeatural representations: the case of rounding harmony in Laal
Authors: Florian Lionnet
Abstract:This paper introduces "subfeatural representations" to capture subphonemic distinctions below the featural level, on the basis of partial effects found in a type of multiple-trigger process: "phonological teamwork". The unusual case of Laal is presented, in which rounding harmony requires two triggers: a round vowel, and a labial consonant. The coarticulatory effect of the labial consonant is shown, on the basis of instrumental evidence, to incur a distinctive, but non-contrastive, intermediate level of rounding on the target vowel, which is analyzed as being featurally [-round], but subfeaturally [[x round]] (0 < x < 1). [[x round]] vowels are shown to form a separate natural class that can be independently targeted by phonological processes. Subfeatural representations are argued to constitute an advantageous reification of phonetic knowledge, forming a more solid basis for phonetically driven models of phonology. This proposal builds on the insights of previous literature that perceptual representations are needed in phonology, while eschewing the need for direct reference to phonetics.
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Phonology, Subfeature, Suphonemic, Gradient, Representation, Harmony, Phonetic Grounding
Article:Version 1