TitleThe Consonants of Gosiute
NameElzinga, Dirk Allen (Author), University of Arizona,
DescriptionThis dissertation is an analysis of the consonantal phonology of Gosiute, a member of the Numic group of Uto-Aztecan languages. The Numic languages are characterized by consonant alternations and distributional patterns which are rooted in patterns of phonetic naturalness. In this dissertation I provide an analysis of these patterns of distribution and alternation within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993). This dissertation accomplishes three things. First, it provides the most detailed treatment to date of the consonant system of a Numic language. Second, it demonstrates the efficacy of Grounding Theory (Archangeli and Pulleyblank 1994) in the analysis of the consonantal patterns under investigation. Third, it shows that Optimality Theory is up to the task of providing a framework for the analysis of large portions of the phonological system of a single language. Chapter 1 situates Gosiute within the Uto-Aztecan language family and provides an overview of the consonant alternations found Gosiute (known in the Uto-Aztecan literature as Spirantization, Gemination, Nasalization, and Aspiration). I provide an overview of Optimality Theory and the Grounding Hypothesis (Archangeli and Pulleyblank 1994) and outline the organization of the dissertation. In chapter 2, I discuss the distribution of continuancy and voicing in obstruents in Gosiute. Voiced obstruents occur intervocalically or following nasals, voiceless ones occur elsewhere. Likewise, continuants occur intervocalically while stops occur elsewhere. These simple facts, which underlie the system of Gosiute consonant gradation, are readily described and explained by positional grounding interacting with context-free grounding and faithfulness requirements. In chapter 3, I provide an introduction to the analysis of final features in Gosiute. I discuss the distributional properties of final features and examine Gemination in some detail. I show that there are arguments for considering final features to be full segments rather than floating features or "latent segments" (Zoll 1996). The argument for Gemination consists in the featural content of the final feature itself. I propose that Gemination consists of a root node specified [+consonantal] since its effects are restricted to consonants. In chapter 4 and 5, I give accounts of Nasalization and Aspiration in Gosiute. Like Gemination, I argue that these final features are best considered full segments rather than latent segments. The argument for segmental status of these final features comes from their interaction with the accusative suffix -a. Chapter 6 is an examination of coronal alternations in Gosiute. Coronal obstruents are found in distributional patterns which depend on the presence or absence of a preceding front vowel. In the pattern I call Fronting, alveolar stops alternate with dental stops--dental stops occur following front vowels, while alveolar stops occur elsewhere. In the pattern I call Palatalization, dental affricates alternate with palato-alveolar affricates--palato-alveolar affricates occur following front vowels, while dental affricates occur elsewhere. I argue that the change in place of articulation involved in Fronting is a result of the greater surface area of the tongue in contact with the roof of the mouth. This alternation thus reduces to an alternation between laminals and apicals, with laminals following front vowels and apicals occurring elsewhere. Palatalization, on the other hand, is a change in stridency; dental affricates are non-strident, while palato-alveolar affricates are strident. Gosiute Fronting and Palatalization can thus be seen as a two step chain shift: alveolar > dental > palato-alveolar. To capture the chain shift of the Gosiute alternations requires the Local Conjunction of constraints (Smolensky 1995, Kirchner 1996). Viewing the alternations in this way confirms their relationship to each other--a relationship suggested by the identity of their triggering environments--and provides another argument in favor of the Local Conjunction of constraints as part of the toolbox of Universal Grammar. Chapter 7 offers some concluding remarks on theoretical implications of the Gosiute data and their analysis in the areas of Grounding, Richness of the Base, and the role of representations in OT.
CollectionRutgers Optimality Archive
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work