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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: Domains and Directionality in the Evolution of German Final Fortition
Author: Gregory K. Iverson
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.uwm.edu/~iverson
Institution: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Author: Joseph C Salmons
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://joseph-salmons.net
Institution: University of Wisconsin Madison
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Subject Language: German
Abstract: Laryngeal realism (Honeybone 2005) holds that thoroughly voiced stops in a language like Dutch will be represented phonologically with the feature [voice], leaving the voiceless unaspirated stops laryngeally neutral, whereas the typically aspirated stops of a language like German are marked with the feature [spread glottis], rendering the passively voiced stops in this language neutral. These two languages also merge laryngeal oppositions in final environments, Dutch undergoing final devoicing but German final fortition. We apply the findings of Evolutionary Phonology (Blevins 2004, 2006b) to these distinctions in final laryngeal neutralisation, underscoring that the evolutionary approach to phonological alternation allows for non-assimilatory feature addition as well as loss. We examine in particular the known history of final fortition in German and find that the reference standard form of the language has evolved an alignment condition to the effect that a fortified syllable edge must match up with the morpheme edge.

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This article appears IN Phonology Vol. 24, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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