January 20, 2014

Phonology Group Meeting (Jan 17)

The Phonetics-Phonology Group met on January 17th. There was a guest talk by Wendell Kimper from the University of Manchester. Title and abstract are below:

Trigger Competition and Locality Asymmetries in Harmony

This talk presents an analysis of locality asymmetries in vowel harmony. In languages with multiple segments which fail to undergo harmony, these segments may differ with respect to their ability to be treated as transparent. In Hungarian, for example, [i] is consistently transparent, but [e] exhibits variable behaviour and can be either transparent or opaque. What is responsible for these segments' diverging behaviour? I argue that locality asymmetries are best understood as an effect that emerges from the interaction between two general preferences in harmony --- the status of certain segments as privileged triggers, and the marked status of non-local interactions. I present an analysis in Serial Harmonic Grammar; harmony is driven by a positively-defined scalar constraint, with decreased rewards for non-local harmony and increased rewards for harmony originating from a preferred trigger.

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