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.