How to overlook one another: The story of vowel-zero alternations in Slavic languages and Government Phonology Cover Image
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Jak přehlédnout jeden druhého: příběh alternací vokálů s nulou ve slovanských jazycích a ve fonologii řízení
How to overlook one another: The story of vowel-zero alternations in Slavic languages and Government Phonology

Author(s): Tobias Scheer
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Ústav pro jazyk český Akademie věd České republiky
Keywords: vowel-zero alternations; yers; empty nuclei; Havlík’s Law; Lower; yer vocalization; government; Government Phonology

Summary/Abstract: The classical generative analysis of modern Slavic vowel-zero alternations crucially relies on so-called abstract vowels, the yers. Yers and the mechanism that controls their vocalization, Lower, have been introduced in order to reduce the disjunction in closed syllables and in open syllables if the following vowel alternates with zero to a non-disjunctive phonological reality. I refer to this disjunction as the yer context. In this article, I show that the distribution and function of the abstract vowels in question is identical with that of empty nuclei in Government Phonology. A prominent feature of this theory is the extensive use of empty nuclei. My goal is to show that certain generative phonologists used the same concept long before Government Phonology came into being, and for entirely independent reasons, yet without giving any theoretical status to the abstract vowels in question. Government Phonology in turn ignored the Slavic evidence and its analysis when proposing empty nuclei. If this turns out to be true, the idea that syllable structure bears a sizeable number of empty nuclei will be strengthened in a corresponding manner.

  • Issue Year: 70/2009
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 250-262
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Czech