SRPP: Prosodically-driven harmony in Strict CV: a Celto-Semitic case

Noam Faust (Univ. Paris 8), Shanti Ulfsbjorninn (Université de Bilbao)
16 octobre 2020, 14h0015h30


In Barra Gaelic (BG; Boseh de Jong 1997), stress (underlined) is generally word-initial and correlates with a high tone [aHran] ‘bread’. A harmonic (or “copy”) epenthetic vowel is inserted in the environment /#(C)VC1_C2(…)/, where C1 is any sonorant and C1 and Care hetero-organic: e.g. /t̪ɔrɣ/ => [t̪ɔrɔHɣ] ‘fishing line’. As shown in the transcription, this epenthetic vowel is doubly interesting: i. it carries the high tone despite being peninitial, and ii. it is as stressed as the initial vowel..

In Modern Hebrew (MH), stress is generally final: [mufsak] ‘begin.pass.prtc’. A harmonic process transforms [a] to [e] before a word-final unstressed sequence [eC]: [mufsek-et] ‘begin.pass.prtc-fm’. The unstressed [e] must be analyzed as epenthetic/weak.  Like BG peninitial epenthesis, the MH case is typologically strange: the weak, unstressed vowel triggers harmony on the lexical stressed one.

We propose a Strict CV account of both patterns that highlights their similarities. In both languages, a prosodic domain must be edge-aligned (to the left in BG, to the right in MH). When epenthesis obliges the aligned domain to span two V-slots, two effects follow. First, its non-aligned edge must also be marked: this is done by H in BG and by stress in MH. Second, the span of two V-slots must be signaled by harmony.

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