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Oowekyala segmental phonology Howe, Darin Mathew

Abstract

This dissertation treats the sound pattern of Oowekyala, a nearly extinct Wakashan language of British Columbia. Proposed analyses are set in Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993). Following an introduction to the language (its speakers, their location, adjacent languages, etc.) and to the adopted theory, the discussion focuses on three dimensions of Oowekyala phonology: intrasegmental, intersegmental, and correspondence-related. The segment-internal (paradigmatic) phonology results from the interaction between lexical faithfulness and context-free markedness constraints. This interaction is discussed with respect to the various features that cross-classify the segment inventory of Oowekyala. For instance, it is argued that laryngeals are [+sonorant], that affricates are [-continuant], that [+voice] and [+constricted glottis] occur as floating elements and that these floaters may cause lenition (insertion of [+sonorant]), and that gutturals (uvulars and laryngeals) are [-ATR]. Intersegmental (syntagmatic) patterns result from the interaction between lexical faithfulness and context-sensitive markedness constraints. Patterns discussed include: rounding of obstruents, degemination, spirantisation/deocclusivisation, continuancy dissimilation, voicing neutralisation, allophonic vowel lowering and resonant debuccalisation. Exceptional phonological patterns that cannot be explained through the interaction between input-output faithfulness constraints and markedness constraints are addressed last. It is proposed that these exceptional patterns reflect various correspondence relations (cf. McCarthy & Prince1995, 1999 on Correspondence Theory): base-reduplicant correspondence, output-to-output correspondence, and candidate-to-candidate correspondence.

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