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Title:Palatalization and jers in modern Russian phonology: An underspecification approach
Author(s):Farina, Donna Marie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kenstowicz, Michael J.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Language, Modern
Literature, Slavic and East European
Abstract:Every student of Russian phonology is aware of the importance of palatalization rules, and of the difficulties encountered in any attempt at describing the surfacing of jers: both structuralist and SPE-type analyses have tackled these problems in depth. In the following these topics are revisited, taking advantage of recent theoretical developments in phonology: nonlinear (syllable) theory, underspecification and lexical phonology. It is claimed: that some palatalized consonants are part of the underlying system of Russian; that there is no underlying /y/, but only high back nonround (y), a variant of /i/; that jers ("fleeting" vowels) are not underlying vowels but are underlying segments without a syllable nucleus; and that some (but not all) of the phonological rules involving jers are syllable-based.
The present work pays particular attention to the role of the feature (-back) in the Russian consonant and vowel systems, the status of jers in the underlying system compared to the status of vowels and consonants, and the behavior of jers in phonological rules. First, the generative view that all palatalized consonants are derived by rule is rejected in favor of the view that palatalized consonants are present underlyingly, but only in some contexts; contextual specification of the feature (-back) in underlying representation is used for these underlying palatalized consonants. Second, /y/ is eliminated from the underlying vowel inventory, and (y) is considered an "allophone" of /i/. Third, the assumption that jers are vowels is rejected: following Levin (1985), they are equated structurally with glides in their lack of an underlying syllable nucleus. Last, the structural reinterpretation of jers leads to a reinterpretation of the functioning of jers in phonological rules: the previously postulated generative rules of Jer Lower and Jer Deletion are replaced by the single rule of Jer Vocalization, in which the surfacing of jers is conditioned by syllable structure. It is argued that the present approach is not merely translational (old rules are not just rewritten using a new theoretical apparatus), but makes different generalizations that allow for a better understanding of the role of jer and palatalization phenomena in the system of Russian as a whole.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Farina, Donna Marie
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136589
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136589

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