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Vowel harmony in Khalkha Mongolian, Yaka, Finnish and Hungarian*

  • John Goldsmith (a1)

The discussion of vowel harmony in this paper continues the theoretical discussion that was sparked by Clements' first proposals concerning an autosegmental treatment of vowel harmony in general (1980 [1976]). I will attempt to show that problems that arose in early autosegmental treatments of certain types of vowel harmony can be elegantly overcome and that autosegmental theory more generally provides an attractive framework for the treatment of vowel systems and vowel harmony. I will discuss three distinct types of systems here: the slightly asymmetrical system of Khalkha Mongolian, the canonical five-vowel system as it can be seen in Bantu (Yaka, in this case), and the well-known Finnish/Hungarian type of system. The kinds of advances made here answer, I believe, the critical comments made in Anderson (1980), in which significant sceptical questions are raised concerning whether the successes of autosegmental accounts of West African systems can be extended to other types of vowel harmony systems.

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