25.2944, Diss: Phonetics, Phonology, Typology: Sylak-Glassman: 'Deriving Natural Classes...'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-25-2944. Tue Jul 15 2014. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 25.2944, Diss: Phonetics, Phonology, Typology: Sylak-Glassman: 'Deriving Natural Classes...'

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Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:48:52
From: John Sylak-Glassman [johnsylakglassman at gmail.com]
Subject: Deriving Natural Classes: The Phonology and Typology of Post-Velar Consonants

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Institution: University of California, Berkeley 
Program: Department of Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2014 

Author: John Christopher Sylak-Glassman

Dissertation Title: Deriving Natural Classes: The Phonology and Typology of
Post-Velar Consonants 

Dissertation URL:  http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~sylak/Sylak-Glassman_John_2014_Diss.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
                     Phonology
                     Typology


Dissertation Director(s):
Sharon Inkelas
Darya Kavitskaya
Keith Johnson
Andrew Garrett

Dissertation Abstract:

In this dissertation, I propose a new method of deriving natural classes that is motivated by 
the phonological patterning of post-velar consonants (uvulars, pharyngeals, epiglottals, and 
glottals). These data come from a survey of the phonemic inventories, phonological 
processes, and distributional constraints in 291 languages.
The post-velar consonants have been claimed to constitute an innate natural class, the 
gutturals (McCarthy 1994). However, no single phonetic property has been shown to 
characterize every post-velar consonant. Using data from P-base (Mielke 2008), I show that 
the phonological patterning of the post-velar consonants is conditioned by the presence of a 
pharyngeal consonant, and argue more generally that natural classes can be derived from 
phonetic connections that link specific subsets of phonemes. Phonological entailments 
(Burzio 2002a,b; Wayment 2009) are used to model these connections. Entailments are 
derived from the co-occurrence of features within a single phoneme, and state that if one 
element of representation (p) is present, then so is another (q). Entailments are central to 
deriving natural classes, and function as a source of explanation for why phonemes are able 
to pattern together.
Because natural classes are proposed to be derived rather than representationally specified, 
I propose that formal representations are responsible for capturing phonemic contrast and 
phonetic detail that is essential for accurately describing phonological processes and 
distributional constraints. Following this proposal, I present a new formal representation of 
the post-velar consonants. Traditional phonological features are associated with the 
phoneme itself and are motivated by the phonemic contrasts discovered through the 
typological survey. In addition, phonetic subfeatures are associated with language-specific 
allophones of phonemes and are motivated by phonological processes that are influenced 
by non-contrastive phonetic properties.
Natural classes are derived as feature classes (symbolized ʗ; Padgett 1995, 2002), which 
are sets of feature bundles combined in a union relationship. Their composition is derived 
using a new type of Optimality Theory constraint, ASSOCIATE(ʗi, p ↔ q), which uses 
entailments to require the feature bundles represented by p and q to be present in a feature 
class, ʗi. I argue that the entailments in these constraints establish a surface 
correspondence relationship between the feature bundles that they require to be present, 
and that regulating this correspondence relationship is key to determining the composition of 
feature classes within a language. MAX-FFʗ requires feature bundles to be in 
correspondence, which eliminates feature bundles that are not required by ASSOCIATE 
constraints. DEP-FFʗ militates against feature bundles being in correspondence, and its 
ranking with respect to the ASSOCIATE constraints determines which feature bundles are 
included in a feature class. The feature bundles required by ASSOCIATE constraints ranked 
above DEP-FFʗ are included in a feature class, while those that are required by ASSOCIATE 
constraints ranked below DEP-FFʗ are not. The dissertation concludes by demonstrating 
that this proposed system can derive natural classes composed of post-velar consonants, 
including the guttural natural class in Arabic.






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