, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 163-203

Coronal consonant, front vowel parallels in Maltese

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This paper presents new evidence in support of the view that front vowels and coronal consonants are members of the natural class of coronal sounds. Evidence is drawn from coronal consonant/front vowel parallels in Maltese where these segments pattern together in default assignment, in vowel-to-coronal consonant assimilation, and in the more general process of coronal assimilation. The significance of the present study goes beyond the support that it offers for the coronality of front vowels; it also bears directly on the representation of consonant/vowel interaction in nonlinear phonology. Further, the evidence from consonant/vowel parallels as default segments is of particular interest in light of proposals suggesting that [coronal] is the unmarked place of articulation for consonants. In this work, it is proposed that the unmarked status of [coronal] can be extended naturally to include not only consonants but vowels as well.

This paper is based on portions of Hume (1994 [1992]), some of which have been revised and augmented. I gratefully acknowledge the comments on this and/or earlier versions of this work of Ellen Broselow, Nick Clements, Abigail Cohn, Beverley Goodman, John Kingston, David Odden, Frederick Parkinson, and two anonymous reviewers. Parts of this paper were presented at WECOL 20, Northwestern University, The University of Iowa, and The Ohio State University, and I am grateful to members of these audiences for their input. Support for this research was provided in part by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.