Ugrás a tartalomhoz Lépj a menübe

Does Turkish diss harmony?*
Markus A. Pöchtrager
Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, İstanbul, Turkey 

Background.  In Government Phonology  (GP; Kaye, Lowenstamm & Vergnaud 1985, 1990; Kaye 1990), Turkish Vowel Harmony (TVH) has received considerable  interest (Charette & Göksel 1994, 1996; Denwood 1997; Ploch 1998). TVH  is usually understood as an element from the harmonic head spreading into a recessive position, cf. (1). Recessive positions (in the stem or suffixes) contain either nothing or the element A underlyingly. I and U spread to the right, but U does not combine with A. Unlicensed empty nuclei are realised as ı [i].


 il-ler ‘country-PL’
 inek-ler ‘cow-PL’
     A    A
ok-u ‘arrow-ACC’
ok-lar ‘arrow-PL’
A    A

Problem.  The  Minimality  Principle  of  GP  states  that  processes  apply  whenever  their conditions  are met  (Kaye  1992:  141).  Thus,  any  element  I  or U must  spread  to  the  right. Furthermore, since recessive positions only contain A or nothing, any I/U in them must come from the left. Disharmonic words (DWs) pose a problem: In (3a), the harmonic head contains an I/U failing to spread. In (3b), the second nucleus contains an I/U not coming from the left.
(3)   a. bira ‘beer’, mühim ‘important’    b. hafif ‘light’, arzu ‘wish’
Kaye  (p.c.) proposes  that DWs have a compound  structure,  i.e.  [[bi][ra]]. This explains  the existence of DWs as well as irregular stress in bira, whose (initial) stress pattern is like that of compounds. Attractive  as  that  account might  seem,  it makes  three  problematic  predictions: (P1) The  individual  parts  of  such  dummy  compounds  should  always  be  big  enough  to  be domains in their own right, (P2) stress should be irregular for all DWs and (P3) DWs should allow for any vowel combination. None of those predictions is borne out, however.
Solution. We  leave aside P2  for now  (stress not being an  issue  for my proposal) and begin with  P3:  Close  inspection  of  the  occurring  DWs  reveals  that  empty  nuclei  are  always harmonised. They never lead to disharmony, i.e. ı (the realisation of an empty nucleus) never follows any other vowel but a or ı (which is harmonic). This provides the crucial clue. 
Instead  of  claiming  that DWs  are  compounds,  I  propose  that  (C1)  recessive  positions  can contain any combination of elements (instead of only nothing or A) and  that (C2) spreading only occurs into empty-headed positions. Claim C1 immediately explains why we find words like hafif, arzu etc. It also makes compound morphology unnecessary and thus avoids P1. C2 explains  why  empty  nuclei  are  always  harmonised,  i.e.  why  harmony  never  disrespects  ı (avoiding P3):  ı  is  the  realisation of an empty nucleus  (empty-headed by definition), and  if there is an I or U in the harmonic head, they will spread into that empty position. 
C2 seems problematic  for bira vs.  il-ler. In bira,  the second nucleus  is  lexically  filled  (with A) and thus, no material can spread into it. The nucleus of -lar also contains A, yet here we do have  spreading  (il-ler,  *il-lar).  Crucially,  the  a  in  bira  and  the  a  in  -lar  are  phonetically different (usually not mentioned in accounts of TVH). I submit that the a in bira is a headed by A, while -lar has an empty-headed A. The empty nucleus  thus forms a natural class with unheaded A: both are headless expressions and thus, both undergo TVH by C2. Harmonic and disharmonic words find a unified explanation. 
I conclude with a discussion of differences between recessive positions in stems and suffixes (improving on C1), the constraints generating the Turkish vowel system and the interpretation of all this within GP 2.0 (this workshop).

* Thanks to hip hop music for creating the slang clipping to dis(s) from to disrespect.