Skip to main content Accessibility help

Gurindji nasal cluster dissimilation as trigger deletion



Processes of unbounded spreading are often claimed to be myopic (e.g. Wilson 2003, McCarthy 2009): the ability of some feature [F] to spread from some segment z to some segment y does not depend on its ability to spread from y to x. Recent work (e.g. Walker 2010, 2014; Jardine 2016) has however cast doubt on the universality of this claim. This paper contributes to the discussion on (non-)myopia on by suggesting that a kind of non-myopic process, trigger deletion, is attested in Gurindji (Pama–Nyungan, McConvell 1988): when the spreading domain contains a certain kind of blocking segment, the spreading trigger deletes. In order to capture this pattern, as well as the extant typology of non-myopic processes, I argue that any successful analysis of unbounded spreading must allow surface candidates to be globally evaluated.


Corresponding author

Author’s address: Department of Linguistics, New York University, 10 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003,


Hide All

For helpful feedback I am grateful to Adam Albright, Edward Flemming, Donca Steriade, Bruce Hayes, and Elliott Moreton; audiences at MIT, PhoNE 2016, 24mfm, and Universität Leipzig; three anonymous Linguistic Inquiry reviewers; and the editor (S.J. Hannahs) and anonymous reviewers at Journal of Linguistics. All errors are my own.



Hide All
Alderete, John. 1997. Dissimilation as local conjunction. In Kusumoto, Kiyomi (ed.), Proceedings of the North East Linguistics Society, vol. 27, 1732. Amherst, MA: Graduate Linguistic Student Association.
Anderson, Stephen F. 1976. Nasal consonants and the internal structure of segments. Language 52, 326344.
Beddor, Patrice S. & Onsuwan, Chutamanee. 2003. Perception of prenasalized stops. In Solé, M. J., Recasens, D. & Romero, J. (eds.), Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 407410. Bellaterra: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Bennett, Wm. G. 2015. The phonology of consonants: Harmony, dissimilation, and correspondence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Benua, Laura. 1997. Transderivational identity: Phonological relations between words. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts.
Bickmore, Lee S. & Kula, Nancy C.. 2013. Ternary spreading and the OCP in Copperbelt Bemba. Studies in African Linguistics 42, 102132.
Blust, Robert. 1998. Seimat vowel nasality: A typological anomaly. Oceanic Linguistics 37, 298322.
Blust, Robert. 2012. One mark per word? Some patterns of dissimilation in Austronesian and Australian languages. Phonology 29, 355381.
Butcher, Andrew. 1999. What speakers of Australian aboriginal languages do with their velums and why: The phonetics of the nasal/oral contrast. Proceedings of the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 479482. Berkeley, CA: University of California.
Cohn, Abigail. 1993. A survey of the phonology of the feature [ $\pm$ nasal]. Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory, vol. 8, 141203.
Cole, Jennifer S. & Kisseberth, Charles W.. 1995. Nasal harmony in optimal domains theory. In Samiian, Vida & Schaeffer, Jeanette (eds.), 24th Western Conference on Linguistics, 4458. Fresno: Department of Linguistics, California State University.
Corbera Mori, Ángel. 2008. Aspectos da fonologia segmental Mehináku. Estudos Lingüísticos 37, 6372.
Diakoumakou, Evanthia. 2004. Coarticulatory vowel nasalization in Modern Greek. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan.
Durie, Mark. 1985. A grammar of Acehnese on the basis of a dialect of north Aceh. Leiden: Foris Publications.
Ennever, Thomas, Meakins, Felicity & Round, Erich R.. 2017. A replicable acoustic measure of lenition and the nature of variability in Gurindji stops. Laboratory Phonology 8, 132.
Ennever, Thomas Blake. 2014. Stop Lenition in Gurindji: An acoustic phonetic study. BA thesis, The University of Queensland.
Everett, Caleb. 2007. Patterns in Karitiana: Articulation, perception, and grammar. Ph.D. dissertation, Rice University.
Flemming, Edward. 2002. Auditory representations in phonology. New York: Routledge.
Flemming, Edward. 2004. Contrast and perceptual distinctiveness. In Hayes, Bruce, Kirchner, Robert & Steriade, Donca (eds.), Phonetically-based phonology, 232276. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Flemming, Edward. 2016. Blocking in nasal harmony. Class notes. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Gibson, Lorna F. 1956. Pame (Otomi) phonemics and morphophonemics. International Journal of American Linguistics 22, 242265.
Hansson, Gunnar Ólafur. 2010. Consonant harmony: Long-distance interaction in phonology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Harrington, Jonathan. 1994. The contribution of the murmur and vowel to the place of articulation distinction in nasal consonants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 96, 1932.
Herbert, Robert K. 1977. Phonetic analysis in phonological description: Prenasalized consonants and Meinhof’s Rule. Lingua 43, 339373.
Herbert, Robert K. 1986. Languages universals, markedness theory, and natural phonetic processes. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hogan, David W. 1988. Urak Lawoi’: Basic structures and a dictionary (Pacific Linguistics C-109), Canberra: Linguistic Circle of Canberra.
Jardine, Adam. 2016. Computationally, tone is different. Phonology 33, 247283.
Jeong, Sunwoo. 2012. Directional asymmetry in nasalization: A perceptual account. Studies in Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology 18, 437469.
Jones, Caroline. 1994. Draft sketch grammar of Ngarinyman. Unpublished Ms., University of Sydney.
Jones, Caroline. 2000. Licit vs. illicit responses in Meinhof’s rule phenomena. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, vol. 37, 95103. Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.
Jung, Ingrid. 2008. Gramática del páez o nasa yuwe: Descripción de una lengua indígena de Colombia. München: Lincom Europa.
Kaun, Abigail Rhoades. 1995. The typology of rounding harmony: An optimality theoretic approach. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California.
Kimper, Wendell. 2012. Harmony is Myopic: Reply to Walker 2010. Linguistic Inquiry 43, 301309.
Ladefoged, Peter & Maddieson, Ian. 1996. The sounds of the world’s languages. Oxford/Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Mahanta, Shakuntala. 2007. Directionality and locality in vowel harmony. Ph.D. dissertation, Utrecht University.
Mamet, M. 1960. Le Langage des Bolia (Lac Léopold ii). Musée Royal du Congo Belge: Tervuren.
Mascaró, Joan. 2016. Myopic harmony and nonlocal trigger-target asymmetries. Ms., Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
McCarthy, John J.2009. Harmony in harmonic serialism. (Linguistics Department Faculty Publication Series 41). Available online at
McCarthy, John J. 2011. Autosegmental spreading in Optimality Theory. In Goldsmith, John A., Hume, Elizabeth & Wetzels, Leo (eds.), Tones and features: Phonetic and phonological perspectives, 195222. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
McCollum, Adam G. & Essegbey, James. 2018. Unbounded harmony is not always Myopic: Evidence from Tutrugbu. In Bennett, Wm. G., Hracs, Lindsay & Storoshenko, Dennis Ryan (eds.), 35th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 35), 251258. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
McConvell, Patrick. 1988. Nasal cluster dissimilation and constraints on phonological variables in Gurundji and related languages. Aboriginal linguistics 1, 135165.
McConvell, Patrick. 1993. [-nasal] spreading in Gurindji and related Australian languages. Ms., Northwest Territories University.
Meeussen, Achille E. 1963. Meinhof’s rule in Bantu. African Language Studies 3, 2529.
Meinhof, Carl. 1932. Introduction to the phonology of the Bantu languages. Berlin: Deitrich Reimer.
Mullin, Kevin & Pater, Joe. 2015. Harmony as iterative domain parsing. Talk presented at the 23rd Manchester Phonology Meeting.
Nichols, Stephen. 2016. Nasal cluster dissimilation in Ngarinyman. Poster presented at the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting.
Padgett, Jaye. 1995. Feature classes. In Beckman, Jill, Walsh-Dickey, Laura & Urbanczyk, Suzanne (eds.), Papers in Optimality Theory (Graduate Linguistic Student Association), 385420. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts.
Pater, Joe. 2009. Weighted constraints in generative linguistics. Cognitive Science 33, 9991035.
Pater, Joe. 2018. Substance matters: A reply to Jardine (2016). Phonology 35, 151156.
Prince, Alan & Smolensky, Paul. 2004. Optimality Theory: Constraint interaction in generative grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
Pulleyblank, Douglas. 1989. Patterns of feature cooccurrence: The case of nasality. Ms., University of Ottawa.
Pulleyblank, Douglas. 2002. Harmony drivers: No disagreement allowed. Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, vol. 28, 249267.
Repp, Bruno H. & Svastikula, Katyanee. 1988. Perception of the [m]–[n] distinction in VC syllables. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 83, 237247.
Riehl, Anastasia K.2008. The phonology and phonetics of nasal obstruent sequences. Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University.
Rivas, Alberto M. 1975. Nasalization in Guaraní. In Kaisse, Ellen & Hankamer, Jorge (eds.), 5th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 5), 134143. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Linguistics Department.
Rose, Sharon & Walker, Rachel. 2004. A typology of consonant agreement as correspondence. Language 80, 475531.
Ryan, Kevin. 2017. Attenuated spreading in Sanskrit retroflex harmony. Linguistic Inquiry 48, 299340.
Safir, Ken. 1982. Nasal spreading in Capanahua. Linguistic Inquiry 13, 689694.
Sanders, Nathan. 2003. Opacity and sound change in the Polish lexicon. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California.
Schourup, Lawrence C. 1973. A cross-language study of vowel nasalization. Working Papers in Linguistics, vol. 15, 190221. Columbus, OH: Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University.
Stanton, Juliet. 2017. Segmental blocking in dissimilation: An argument for co-occurrence constraints. In Jesney, Karen, O’Hara, Charlie, Smith, Caitlin & Walker, Rachel (eds.), Proceedings of the 2016 meeting on phonology. Washington, DC: Linguistic Society of America.
Stanton, Juliet. 2018a. Constraints on contrast motivate nasal cluster dissimilation. Ms., New York University.
Stanton, Juliet. 2018b. Environmental shielding is contrast preservation. Phonology 35, 3979.
Steriade, Donca. 1993a. Closure, release, and nasal contours. In Huffman, Marie & Krakow, Rena (eds.), Nasals, nasalization, and the velum, 401470. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Steriade, Donca. 1993b. Orality and markedness. 19th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: General Session and Parasession on Semantic Typology and Semantic Universals, 334347. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.
Steriade, Donca. 1997. Phonetics in phonology: The case of Laryngeal neutralization. Ms., University of California.
Steriade, Donca. 2016. ATB-shifts and ATB-blockage in vocalic plateaus. Ms., MIT.
Storto, Luciana. 1999. Aspects of a Karitiana grammar. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.
Suomi, Kari. 1983. Palatal harmony: A perceptually motivated phenomenon? Nordic Journal of Linguistics 6, 135.
Suzuki, Keiichiro. 1998. A typological investigation of dissimilation. Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Arizona.
Trail, Robert L. 1970. The grammar of Lamani. Norman, OK: Summer Institute Linguistics Publication No. 24, University of Oklahoma.
Tsunoda, Tasaku. 1981. The Djaru language of Kimberley, Western Australia. Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.
Walker, Rachel. 2005. Weak triggers in vowel harmony. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 23, 917989.
Walker, Rachel. 2010. Nonmyopic harmony and the nature of derivations. Linguistic Inquiry 41, 169179.
Walker, Rachel. 2014. Nonlocal trigger-target relations. Linguistic Inquiry 45, 501523.
Walker, Rachel, Byrd, Dani & Mpiranya, Fidèle. 2008. An articulatory view of Kinyarwanda coronal harmony. Phonology 25, 499535.
Walker, Rachel & Pullum, Geoffrey K.. 1999. Possible and impossible segments. Language 75, 764780.
Walker, Rachel Leah. 1998. Nasalization, neutral segments and opacity effects. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Welmers, William E. 1962. The phonology of Kpelle. Journal of African Languages 1, 6993.
Wilson, Colin. 2003. Analyzing unbounded spreading with constraints: Marks, targets, and derivations. Ms., University of California.
Wonderly, William. 1951. Zoque I, II, III, IV. International Journal of American Linguistics 17, 19; 105–123, 137–162, 235–251.
Zymet, Jesse. 2014. Distance-based decay in long-distance phonological processes: A probabilistic model for Malagasy, Latin, English, and Hungarian. MA thesis, University of California.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed