Minimality and Onset Conditions Interact with Vowel Harmony in Fungwa

Samuel Akinbo


This paper explores how the domain of vowel harmony can be affected by conditions involving minimality and the requirement for an onset within optimality theory (OT) framework. This work is based on the description and analysis of vowel harmony in Fungwa, an endangered Kainji, Benue-Congo (Niger state, Nigeria) language. In Fungwa, the root vowels trigger backness harmony which targets the vowels of onsetful prefixes and clitics. However, this harmony does not target vowels of onsetless prefixes. In this work, I argue that prosodic word (PWd) is the domain vowel harmony, a minimality condition and an onset condition. The vowel of the onsetful prefixes and clitics undergoing harmony is as a result of the minimality condition which dictates the occurence of the onsetful prefixes and clitics in the PWd. However, the onset condition on PWd results in the misalignment of the onsetless prefixes with the PWd, which is the domain of harmony.


Minimality, Onset Condition, Vowel Harmony, Fungwa, Optimality Theory

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Copyright (c) 2019 Samuel Akinbo