Vowel harmony shift in Mongolian

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It has generally been assumed that Mongolian has vowel harmony of the palatal (front-back) type, but in this article I will present acoustic data from several Mongolian dialects, which show that there has been a shift in the phonetic basis of vowel harmony from palatality in Classical Mongolian to pharyngeality in modern East Mongolian (including Khalkha and Inner Mongolian).

I will also treat Mongolian vowel harmony and the vowel harmony shift in terms of generative phonology. As far as I know, this is the first time a vowel harmony shift has been descripted in detail, and the description gives rise to several problems which cannot be solved using Chomsky and Halle's feature system or the different amendments to it, which have been proposed to deal with pharyngeal harmony. For this reason I have adopted the feature system worked out by Sidney Wood, based on cross-linguistic studies of vowel articulation, within which the vowel harmony shift can be described as a rule simplification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-327
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1985

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


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