, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 217–252 | Cite as

Multiple feature affixation in Seenku plural formation

  • Laura McPhersonEmail author


Nominal plural formation in Seenku involves two surface changes: fronting of the final vowel and raising of the final tone. Diachronically, the plural patterns likely derive from a suffix *- Open image in new window , which has been obscured through the loss of falling sonority diphthongs. By comparing plural formation to other morphophonological processes in Seenku, this paper argues that the plural suffix has been restructured as a featural suffix consisting of two features: the vocalic feature [+front], resulting in vowel fronting, and the tonal feature [+raised], resulting in tone raising. Given the atomic nature of the morphosyntactic feature plural, Seenku plural formation represents a strong case of multiple feature affixation, albeit a case that can be accounted for through Max constraints on feature values (Lombardi 2001, etc.) and Realize-Morpheme (van Oostendorp 2005; Trommer 2012) rather than the constraint Max-Flt argued for by Wolf (2007). A level-ordered approach retaining the vocalic suffix is also considered but is shown to suffer from a number of shortcomings, particularly with respect to tone and a challenging class of nasal stems. In short, this paper explores how the synchronic grammar copes with the vestiges of affixal morphology in a language that has undergone heavy reduction.


Featural affixation Plural Mande Tone OT Stratal Phonology 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation grant #BCS-1263150, the Dartmouth College Office of the Provost, and the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. I would like to thank my Seenku consultants, Sy Clément Traoré, Gni Emma Traoré, and Gni Fatou Traoré, without whom this work would not be possible. I am also very grateful for helpful comments and feedback from Stephanie Shih, Adam Chong, Mars Yuvarajan, audience members at BU and Mandelang-4, the editor Ingo Plag, and two anonymous Morphology reviewers in preparing this paper. All remaining errors are, of course, my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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