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Glottal transparency*

  • Joseph Paul Stemberger (a1)

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Glottal consonants (/h/ and /?/) often have a special status that has led to the hypothesis that they are underspecified for both consonant and vowel place of articulation features. There is an alternative acoustically based explanation for the special status that, while workable, is valued less highly in linguistic theory. This alternative hypothesis can be ruled out only with data where the relevant acoustic phenomena are not contained in the input to be learned. I address four processes of consonant and vowel harmony in the speech of three children learning English, where the alternative hypothesis cannot account for the data. I conclude that glottals are underspecified for consonant and vowel place of articulation features, and that they lack the node in feature geometry that immediately dominates such features (either the Place node or an Oral node).

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Glottal transparency*

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