Diphthongization and underspecification in Kɔnni

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Diphthongization and underspecification in Kɔnni

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Title: Diphthongization and underspecification in Kɔnni
Author: Cahill, Mike
Abstract: The problems of analyzing vowels of Gur languages are well-known to those who work among them. The bulk of the difficulty in Kɔnni comes in the analysis of the mid vowels, which manifest themselves in diverse and initially confusing ways. In this paper, I demonstrate that phonetic vowel sequences in Kɔnni can be analyzed as a diphthongization of long mid vowels. Evidence from phonetics, phonological rules, and tone is cited to support this conclusion. In the remainder of Section 1, I present the vowel harmony system of Kɔnni. In Section 2, I introduce the question of how putative vowel sequences are to be interpreted. In Section 3, I propose that these “sequences” are the result of a diphthongization rule. Section 4 considers the place underspecification plays in vowel harmony. In Section 5, Hayes’ (1990) concept of coindexing is reviewed. In Section 6, underspecification is combined with coindexing to provide a formal account for diphthongization in Kɔnni.
Date: 1994

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