Phonological representations and the variable patterning of glides

Abstract : We argue that the glides [j,w] are not just non-nuclear versions of vowels, but also bear a subsegmental difference, which we propose is due to a feature [±vocalic]. This representational difference is integrated into an explanation of why glides may be skipped in vowel harmony, even when other consonants do participate in harmony. In addition, we propose that the glides [j,w] have two Designated Articulators: [j] is both [Dorsal] and [Coronal], and [w] is both [Dorsal] and [Labial]. These representational proposals shed light on a number of phenomena, such as why the glide [j] becomes [k] in some languages, but [Image ] in others, as well as why the glide [w] can sometimes become [m]. In short, glides are mentally represented as neither vowels nor consonants, have their own constriction degree, and have two Designated Articulators. The interaction of the logic of abstract binary featural representations together with representational notions such as constrastivity and representational simplification yields this typology of variable patterning.
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Andrew Nevins, Ioana Chitoran. Phonological representations and the variable patterning of glides. Lingua, Elsevier, 2008, Studies on the Phonetics and Phonology of Glides, 118 (12), pp.1979-1997. ⟨10.1016/j.lingua.2007.10.006⟩. ⟨hal-01226130⟩

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