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Towards a phonetic and phonological typology of post-velar articulation Bessell, Nicola J.

Abstract

This dissertation develops a typology of post-velar articulation from the point of view of available inventory, phonetic and phonological studies. The database on which such typologies can draw is expanded by the examination of data from the Interior Salish languages of the Pacific Northwest. The post-velar inventory of Interior Salish is examined acoustically in order to place it within the phonetic typology of post-velars as understood from work on Semitic and Caucasian. Pharyngeals from six Interior Salish languages are examined to determine the range of variation. The basic finding of this acoustic work is that the Interior Salish post-velars are commensurate with what is known about post-velars based on Semitic data and articulatory modelling. Interior Salish phonological data support the extension of articulator-based feature geometry to a fourth node, here termed Tongue Root. It is shown that the fourth node is required to class Interior Salish faucals and accommodate their participation in harmony processes. Furthermore, constraints on the phonology of the fourth node in Interior Salish suggest that we are dealing with an Advanced Tongue Root phenomenon such as found in some African vowel harmonies. This is an encouraging result in the sense that it confirms the existence of Tongue Root consonants and does not confine the fourth node to vowels. The analysis of Interior Salish laryngeals without the fourth node that characterizes their Semitic counterparts corroborates our understanding of laryngeals as lacking Place specifications in the default case. Furthermore, it is argued that the descriptivist and Dependency Phonology view of /2, h/ as minimal stop and fricative is phonologically appropriate. Evidence from epenthesis, laryngeal transparency and debuccalization support the analysis of ii, h/ as (+consonantal, -sonorant, +/-continuant]. Debuccalization and epenthesis processes also suggest that h/ do not necessarily bear Laryngeal Node features. It is argued that unless phonemic phonation features are present in an inventory, there is no need for /2, h/ to bear [constricted glottis, spread glottis]. It is noted that the phonology of post-velars in Interior Salish contrasts with their patterning in Semitic (McCarthy 1991) and Nisgha (Shaw 1991b), specifically with respect to the representation of /2, h/. The presence of a fourth node in Interior Salish does not require that laryngeals be dependents of it. The same finding is reported by McCarthy (1991) for Semitic. Given that there is no acoustic evidence at present to suggest that we are dealing with distinct phonetic entities, it appears that there presentation of laryngeals in languages with a fourth node must be stipulated.

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