Stricture in Feature Geometry


This dissertation examines the role of the stricture features (continuant), (consonantal) and (sonorant) in phonological phenomena involving place of articulation. It is argued that these features play a central role in such phenomena, a fact that requires an explanation in feature geometrical terms. Arguments from topics as diverse as place assimilation, stricture in complex segments, place-stricture interaction in cooccurrence restrictions, spirantization, and the phonology-phonetics mapping converge in support of a new geometry grouping (continuant) and (consonantal) with the articulators, a configuration referred to as the ‘articulator group’.

Chapter 1 introduces the background issues. Phonetic considerations are also explored, and found to lend support to the proposal.

Chapter 2 examines an asymmetry in the triggers involved in nasal place assimilation: In languages where there is assimilation to continuants, there is assimilation to stops, while the reverse entailment does not hold. This asymmetry is explained assuming the articulator group and a theory of marking conditions and Structure Preservation.

Chapter 3 turns to the representation of complex segments, focusing in particular on Kabardian, arguing that the articulator group is required in order to adequately represent such segments.

In chapter 4 the role of (cont) in place assimilation by liquids and obstruents is explored. The few clear cases of such place assimilation do not challenge the proposal; some directly support it. Some instances of Coronal linking are more troublesome, suggesting the possibility of more structure within the articulators.

Chapter 5 takes up some important further issues, including the implications of the articulator group for a theory of Coronal underspecification and for the representation of laryngeal segments. The examination of these issues provides further support for the proposal.

Chapter 6 treats the role of stricture features in consonant cooccurrence restrictions. A revised form of the Obligatory Contour Principle is advocated, and further implications for the articulator group are examined. Chapter 6 concludes with a discussion of the use of class nodes in Feature Geometry.

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