24.100, Diss: Dravidian/ Indo-Aryan/ Munda/ Tibeto-Burman/ Phonology/ Hindi/ Kalasha/ Kohistani, Indus/ Kumarbhag Paharia/ Mundari/ Pengo/ Punjabi/ Santali/ Sauria Paharia: Arsenault: 'Retroflex Consonant Harmony in South Asia'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-24-100. Wed Jan 09 2013. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 24.100, Diss: Dravidian/ Indo-Aryan/ Munda/ Tibeto-Burman/ Phonology/ Hindi/ Kalasha/ Kohistani, Indus/ Kumarbhag Paharia/ Mundari/ Pengo/ Punjabi/ Santali/ Sauria Paharia: Arsenault: 'Retroflex Consonant Harmony in South Asia'

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Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2013 11:49:47
From: Paul Arsenault [parsenault at tyndale.ca]
Subject: Retroflex Consonant Harmony in South Asia

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Institution: University of Toronto 
Program: Department of Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2012 

Author: Paul Arsenault

Dissertation Title: Retroflex Consonant Harmony in South Asia 

Dissertation URL:  http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33911

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology

Subject Language(s): Hindi (hin)
                     Kalasha (kls)
                     Kohistani, Indus (mvy)
                     Kumarbhag Paharia (kmj)
                     Mundari (unr)
                     Pengo (peg)
                     Punjabi (pan)
                     Santali (sat)
                     Sauria Paharia (mjt)

Language Family(ies): Dravidian

Dissertation Director(s):
Keren D. Rice

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation explores the nature and extent of retroflex consonant harmony 
in South Asia. Using statistics calculated over lexical databases from a broad 
sample of languages, the study demonstrates that retroflex consonant harmony 
is an areal trait affecting most languages in the northern half of the South Asian 
subcontinent, including languages from at least three of the four major families in 
the region: Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Munda (but not Tibeto-Burman). Dravidian 
and Indo-Aryan languages in the southern half of the subcontinent do not exhibit 
retroflex consonant harmony. 

In South Asia, retroflex consonant harmony is manifested primarily as a static 
co-occurrence restriction on coronal consonants in roots/words. Historical-
comparative evidence reveals that this pattern is the result of retroflex 
assimilation that is non-local, regressive and conditioned by the similarity of 
interacting segments. These typological properties stand in contrast to those of 
other retroflex assimilation patterns, which are local, primarily progressive, and 
not conditioned by similarity. This is argued to support the hypothesis that local 
feature spreading and long-distance feature agreement constitute two 
independent mechanisms of assimilation, each with its own set of typological 
properties, and that retroflex consonant harmony is the product of agreement, 
not spreading. Building on this hypothesis, the study offers a formal account of 
retroflex consonant harmony within the Agreement by Correspondence (ABC) 
model of Rose & Walker (2004) and Hansson (2001; 2010).

Two Indo-Aryan languages, Kalasha and Indus Kohistani, figure prominently 
throughout the dissertation. These languages exhibit similarity effects that have 
not been clearly observed in other retroflex consonant harmony systems; 
retroflexion is contrastive in both non-sibilant (i.e., plosive) and sibilant obstruents 
(i.e., affricates and fricatives), but harmony applies only within each manner 
class, not between them. At the same time, harmony is not sensitive to laryngeal 
features. Theoretical implications of these and other similarity effects are 

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