How does vowel harmony develop? Evidence from Behoa, a language of Indonesia

Christina L. Truong
Presentation at LSA 2020, 2-5 January 2020

This paper presents evidence from Behoa (Austronesian; Indonesia), showing that vowel harmony developed through phonologization of earlier vowel allophony which was enhanced through vowel-to-vowel coarticulation. The steps of development seen suggest that other morphological, lexical, and prosodic factors favored the rise of VH, including the shape and stress patterns of roots and suffixes, and the contrastive load of low vowel phonemes. Cross-linguistic examples of vowel phenomena showing similar steps of development are also discussed. This study represents new descriptive work on VH in a lesser-known language and contributes to the relatively small body of research on the diachrony of VH.
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