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[+ATR] Dominant Vowel Harmony Except When It's Not? Evidence from Ethiopian Komo
Manuel A. Otero
212-220 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Komo (Koman) has an underlying seven-vowel inventory with phonemic ATR contrast in the high vowels. Languages with this inventory overwhelmingly exhibit [+ATR] dominant vowel harmony (Casali 2003, 2008). Komo exhibits two distinct ATR harmony processes, one of which amply satisfies the criteria for [+ATR] dominant harmony. One characteristic of [+ATR] dominant harmony systems is the presence of 'dominant affixes', typically suffixes, which do not alternate in their [+ATR] value and invariably cause [-ATR] root vowels to assimilate to [+ATR] (Casali 2008: 514). What is unique about the Komo ATR system is that underlyingly [+ATR] suffix vowels, which behave like prototypical triggers of anticipatory [+ATR] dominant harmony in one phonological domain, are targets of progressive [-ATR] harmony in another domain. The data in this paper attempt to illustrate that both [+ATR] and [-ATR] harmony processes in Komo are strictly phonologically conditioned and not idiosyncratic. ATR vowel harmony in Komo calls into question the notion that within any one language, only one ATR value can be dominant.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Ruth Kramer, Elizabeth C. Zsiga, and One Tlale Boyer
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00