Another travesty of Representation: phonological representation and phonetic interpretation of ATR harmony in Kalenjin

John Local, Ken Lodge

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    The Kalenjin group of languages, spoken mainly in western Kenya, displays a harmony system involving the phonological feature Advanced Tongue Root ([ATR]). The study reported here addresses issues of the phonological representation of the [ATR] in Kalenjin and its phonetic interpretation. Specifically, it is shown that (1) the harmony system encompasses the consonant system as well as the vowel system; (2) [AIR] is best characterized as a phonological unit that has a syllabic domain; (3) there are harmony constraints on the constituents of monomorphemic polysyllables; and (4) the phonetic exponents of [ATR] harmony provide evidence for the need to maintain a strict demarcation between an abstract, relational phonology and interpretive phonetic exponents. It is argued that a straightforward way of handling the [ATR] harmony system is in terms of underspecification, and it is proposed that a formal implementation of the analysis can be constructed in terms of constraints on structured hierarchies of features that permit partial specification and structure sharing, combined with a phonetic interpretation function.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-117
    Number of pages41
    JournalYork Papers in Linguistics
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 1996

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