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Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

John Anderson 34 tal’.

John Anderson 34 tal’. But again much of the linearity associated with so-called ‘non-linear’ representations is redundant. And this brings us to the contemplation of perhaps less obvious analogies. Consider, in outline, how many systems of vowel harmony work. Let us focus, for present purposes on so-called ‘stem-controlled’ harmony. On the one hand, in terms of this, all the vowels within a lexical formative are required to share lexically the presence or absence of some secondary property (in terms of simplex features). This property is then a property of the lexical item rather than of individual vowels (unless there is some motivation for selecting a specific vowel as the source of the harmony). On the other hand, the property in question spreads to at least some affixes. This can be illustrated from the well-known Finnish system (the complexities of which I do not pursue here – see e.g. Skousen 1970, Anderson 1975, Ringen 1975; the following examples are drawn from van der Hulst & van de Weijer 1995). Finnish is generally analysed as showing ‘palatal harmony’ or ‘backness harmony’: lexical items are either ‘front words’ or ‘back words’, as respectively illustrated by (71.a) and (b): (71) a. pöytä ‘table’, käyrä ‘curve’, tyhmä ‘stupid’ b. pouta ‘fine weather’, kaura ‘oats’, tuhma ‘naughty’ c. värttinä ‘spinning-wheel’, kesy ‘tame’ d. palttina ‘linen cloth’, verho ‘curtain’ There are two neutral vowels, spelled i and e, which, though themselves categorisable in traditional terms as ‘front’, can appear in either type of item, ‘front’ or ‘back’, as illustrated in (71.c-d) respectively. Let us consider how this might be represented phonologically. Firstly let me spell out appropriate representations for the vowels, without reference to the ‘harmony’ phenomena. The fully specified vowel system of Finnish is patently asymmetrical, as shown in (72): (72) the fully specified Finnish vowel system acute acute + grave non-acute {i} ‘i’ {u,i} ‘y’ {u} ‘u’ {i;a} ‘e’ {u,a,i} ‘ö’ {u,a} ‘o’ {a;i} ‘ä’ non-acute non-grave {a} ‘a’ (72) gives only the specification of the secondary categories; the segments are all vowels. {a}, {u} and {i} are the vowels containing respectively only the compactness/lowness, grave/round and acute/palatal feature (Anderson & Ewen 1987: §6.1). However, contrastivity again demands that we reject as lexical representations such over-specified conjunctions of secondary features as we find in (72). Moreover, if we follow Anderson & Durand (1988a,b 1993) in associating such asymmetry as we see here with the presence of non-specification, we can posit a lexical system which is less redundant, which is symmetrical, and which makes transparent the nature of the harmony and ‘neutrality’ to it, if we propose for Finnish the system of (73):

35 Structural analogy in language, and its limits (73) the minimally specified Finnish vowel system acute non-acute {u,i} ‘y’ {u} ‘u’ {u,a,i} ‘ö’ {u,a} ‘o’ {a,i} ‘ä’ {a} ‘a’ underspecified { } ‘i’ { , } ‘e’ (73) contains two vowels with no substantive specification, one simplex, corresponding to i, the other complex, indicated by the comma in the representation, corresponding to e. They are realised as in (74), which statements can be thought of as redundancies applicable to the vowels of Finnish: (74) a. {V{, }} = {V{,a}} b. {V{ }} = {V{i}} By virtue of application of both of (74.a) and (b), { , } comes to be {i,a}. How then is what is spelled e distinguished from what is spelled ä (cf. (73))? The answer to this lies in the characterisation of harmony. In terms of (73), the formatives in (70) are respectively ‘acute +’ vs. ‘non-acute’ items, i.e. associated with presence vs. absence of the acuteness/palatality feature i. The ‘neutral’ vowels, which are neither ‘acute +’ nor ‘non-acute’, can appear in both ‘acute +’ and ‘non-acute’ words, as in (71). We can represent ‘acute +’ and ‘non-acute’ words respectively as in (75): (75) a. {i}((p,{u},{a,u}) + (t,{a}) ) = pöytä b. (p,{u},{a,u}) + (t,{a}) = pouta The items respectively contain a non-linearised, or extrasegmental, ‘{i}’, indicated in (75.a) by placement outside the sequence of syllables (included within the outer round brackets), or they lack it. (I have not given representations for the consonants, which are not pertinent here.) Lexically, there seem to be no motivations for assigning a linear position to the extrasegmental, or attributing to it an association beyond being a property of the lexical item. The extrasegmental element is perhaps derivatively associated with the vowels as in (76.a) – or, in this case at least, and following Anderson (1987: §1), the extrasegmental is associated with the accented vowel, specifically with the accent node in the suprasegmental representation of the lexical item, as in (76.b):

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