Vowel harmony in non-Bantu Niger-Congo languages
Nicholas Rolle, Olanike Ola Orie
August 2022
 

This chapter examines vowel harmony in non-Bantu Niger-Congo phonology, focusing Advanced Tongue Root (ATR) harmony whereby vowels harmonize for tongue root position (all vowels are either [+ATR] or [-ATR]). One subtype is cross-height ATR harmony, which has constraints of the type */i…ɛ/ or */ʊ…o/ banning mixed ATR values across distinct heights. We compare this mid-height ATR harmony, where only the mid series participates in ATR harmony due to the absence of a [-ATR] high series, having constraints of the type */e…ɛ/ or /ɔ…o/. In contrast to ATR harmony, other types of vowel harmony such as rounding harmony, height harmony, and identical-vowel harmony occur far less frequently in non-Bantu Niger-Congo. This chapter highlights several perennial issues which these data bring up, including directionality of harmony, ATR dominance, the domain of vowel harmony, and ATR’s antagonistic relationship with interior vowels (e.g. ɨ y ʉ ɯ ə ʌ, etc.). [Sadly, Olanike Ola Orie passed away in 2021 and was unable to see the final version of this work. Olanike wrote the first draft of this chapter, focusing on the harmonic systems of Yoruba, Igbo, and Igede. Olanike was a major force in bridging the worlds of theoretical and Africanist linguistics, and we will miss her presence in our field dearly. This chapter is dedicated to her memory.]
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006739
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Rolle, Nicholas, & Olanike Ola Orie. forthcoming. “Vowel harmony in non-Bantu Niger-Congo languages”. In Nancy A. Ritter & Harry van der Hulst (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Vowel Harmony.
keywords: atr harmony, tongue root, niger-congo, africa, dominance, directionality, interior vowels, vowel inventories, phonology
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