Partial Height Harmony as Partial Transparency

Caitlin Smith


Harmony is defined broadly as the spread of some phonological property from a trigger segment to one or more undergoer segments. Transparency to harmony refers to a situation in which some segments do not take on a harmonizing property, but instead have apparently been skipped over. There are also cases in which some segments appear to have only partially undergone harmony, assimilating to a trigger segment with respect to a harmonizing property without taking on that property completely. Partial harmony is most commonly exemplified by cases of height harmony in which an undergoer vowel approaches the height of a trigger vowel without necessarily reaching it. In this paper, I propose an analysis of the partial height harmony of Servigliano Italian that is situated within the Gestural Harmony Model. In this model, harmony is the result of a subsegmental gesture extending to overlap the gestures of other segments in a word. Transparency arises due to overlap between a harmonizing gesture and a gesture with a conflicting articulatory target. In this model of harmony and transparency, I propose that cases in which segments seem to partially undergo harmony, as in the height harmony of Servigliano Italian, be analyzed as cases of partial transparency.


vowel harmony; height harmony; metaphony; transparency; chain shift; gestures; Articulatory Phonology

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2020 Caitlin Smith

License URL: