Advanced tongue root harmony in Anii-Gisida

Musah, Malika (2022) Advanced tongue root harmony in Anii-Gisida. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis provides an analysis of vowel harmony and positional neutralization in Anii- Gisida. Anii-Gisida is spoken in the northern part of Benin, eastern Togo, and the central-eastern part of Ghana. It has an eleven-vowel system, which is unique in that all the vowels are active in [ATR] harmony processes (Morton, 2012, 2014). Anii-Gisida has five [+ATR] vowels, /i, e, ə, o, u/ and six [-ATR] vowels, /ɪ, ɛ, ɨ, a, ɔ, ʊ/. All the vowels have a harmonic counterpart except the high central vowel /ɨ/. The high central vowel, however, occurs exclusively with [-ATR] vowels in a word. I argue that all the vowels, /i, ɪ, e, ɛ, ɨ, ə, a, o, ɔ, ʊ, u/ are contrastive for [ATR], including the high central vowel /ɨ/. I compare two approaches to contrastive feature specification, the Minimal Difference approach (e.g., Nevins, 2010) and the Successive Division Algorithm (e.g., Dresher, 2009), to determine which approach best accounts for vowel harmony patterning and positional neutralization in Anii-Gisida. The former approach does not result in contrastive specification of [ATR] for the Anii-Gisida high central vowel; and allows the non-contrastive vowel /ɨ/ to participate in [ATR] harmony. However, the latter allows all vowels to be contrastively specified for the harmonic feature; and allows only contrastive features to participate in [ATR] harmony. It is only the SDA version of contrastive specification that predicts that the high central vowel /ɨ/ can be phonologically active while also restricting phonological activity to contrastive features. The SDA also accounts for positional neutralization and markedness facts in Anii- Gisida. I propose that the features, [ATR], [low], [back], [high] and [round] are the features that divide the Anii-Gisida vowel inventory in a hierarchical tree. In the proposed hierarchical tree, the features ([±high] and [±round]) are ordered lower in the tree. These are the features that neutralize in affix position. Positional neutralization is crucial to distinguishing between marked and unmarked values in Anii-Gisida. The [- high] and [-round] vowels do not occur in the affixes. I argue that these feature values are marked relative to [+high] and [+round] which do occur in affixes. The proposed feature tree accounts for both [ATR] harmony and positional neutralization in Anii- Gisida.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15336
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 77-82).
Keywords: language, ATR harmony, contrastive features, positional neutralization, markedness
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: May 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Language and languages--Grammars; Grammar, Comparative and general--Vowel harmony; Linguistics--Benin; Linguistics--Togo; Linguistics--Ghana; Anii (African people)--Language.

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