McCollum (2019) – Transparency, locality, and contrast in Uyghur backness harmony

Transparency, locality, and contrast in Uyghur backness harmony
Adam McCollum
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October 2019
Theories of vowel harmony have wrestled with the formal challenges of transparency, notably the increased expressivity of non-local dependencies. However, experimental work has demonstrated on a number of occasions that ‘transparent’ vowels actually undergo harmony (e.g. Gick, Pulleyblank, Campbell, & Mutaka, 2006), re-establishing the role of locality in the analysis of harmony. Transparency has also been shown to be constrained by count effects – a single token of a vowel may be transparent but multiple tokens are not (Hayes & Londe, 2006; Ringen & Kontra, 1989). However, existing work on backness harmony in Uyghur argues that harmony truly skips the high front vowel /i/ and is unaffected by multiple tokens of transparent /i/. This paper examines the distribution of [i] and [ɯ] within roots and suffixes to assess their phonological status, as well as their participation in harmony. Results indicate there are no transparent vowels in Uyghur, as [i] and [ɯ] regularly alternate for harmony. This finding is interpreted as further support for the role of locality in harmony more generally.

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Reference: lingbuzz/004839
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keywords: phonology, vowel harmony, locality, transparency, contrast, uyghur, phonology