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Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 1989. 18:203-26
Copyright ? 1989 by Annual Reviews Inc. All rights reserved

Douglas Pulleyblank
of Linguistics,Universityof Ottawa,Ottawa,Ontario,CanadaKIN 6N5

The productionand perceptionof speech involve the interactionof a varietyof
semi-independent grammatical modules. The MORPHOLOGICAL component
governs the structure of a well-formed word, licensing certain types of
morpheme' combinations (for example, un+event+ful+ly, in-
ter+nation+al+is+ation) and disallowing others (for instance, *un+abil+-
ity, *inter+nation+ise2). The SYNTACTIC component governs the combina-
tion of words into well-formed sentences, allowing, for example, an English
sentence like "Which student did John say the professor failed?" while
disallowing a sentence like "*Which student did John see the professor that
failed?". Of particularinterestto the linguist are cases where ungrammatical-
ity does not follow from some logically necessaryproperty.In examples such
as those mentionedhere, a word like *un+abil+ity is unacceptablein spite of
there being a straightforwardinterpretation,the expected meaning being
comparable to that of in+abil+ity (note moreover the perfectly acceptable
un+able and abil+ity); similarly, the sentence "*Whichstudentdid John see
the professorthat failed?"is ungrammaticalin spite of there being a perfectly
straightforward(and unique) interpretation,namely "Johnsaw the professor
that failed which student?" Because the ungrammaticalityof such cases
cannot be attributedto some logically necessary property, they serve as
windows into the intrinsic structureof the language capacity (4, 5).
In addition to the morphology and syntax, one must distinguish "in-
terpretive"components of a grammar,components including the SEMANTICS
and the PHONOLOGY. These componentsassign meanings and pronunciations,
respectively, to the structuresgeneratedby the combinationof morphology

'Morphemesare linguistic units of which words are composed-typically, but not invariably,
the smallest formalunits thatcan be assigned independentmeanings (see 2). Boundariesbetween
morphemes are indicated here by the symbol "+".
2By standardlinguistic convention, ungrammaticalexamples are precededby an asterisk(*).


and syntax. In the discussion here, we consider certain properties of the

phonological component. The central concern is the same as that already
described for the morphology and the syntax, namely the establishmentof
those propertiesof phonological representationsthat are not logically neces-
sary and hence may provide informationabout the structureof the human
linguistic mechanism.
The Nature of the Phonological Component
A fundamentalaspect of our linguistic capacity is the ability to be creative-
both in terms of production and perception. When speaking we produce
utterances never previously encountered, and when being spoken to we
interpretsuch utterances effortlessly. Our linguistic abilities cannot, there-
fore, be characterisedas involving the simple matchingof an input or output
sequence with some set of stored linguistic representations.This point is
importantfor an understandingof phonology because the actualpronunciation
of a word often depends on the other words appearingadjacent to it. For
example, the [y] of you can trigger palatalizationof [t] in a phrase like "we
brough[ty]ou to the zoo"/"we brough[ch]outo the zoo"; the same process is
impossible, however, if the [y] in the [t y] sequence comes from a word like
yak: "we brough[ty]aks to the zoo"/"*we brough[ch]aksto the zoo." Sim-
ilarly, whetheror not the sequence want to can be phonologically contracted
to wanna dependson the sentencein which the phrasefinds itself. Contraction
is possible, for example, in "Who do you want tolwanna visit?", but impos-
sible in "Who do you want tol*wanna visit your sick grandmother?"
The combination of creativity with contextually dependent phonological
processes has a straightforward,though far-reaching, implication for an
interpretativecomponentof grammarlike the phonology. Stored information
aboutwords must include phonologicalinformation.The actualpronunciation
of words and phrases, however, can deviate from such storedrepresentations
depending on the sequences within which such words are found.
Such simple observations suggest the following lines of enquiry: (a) the
determinationof propertiesof the phonologicalrepresentationsthat are stored
in a mental lexicon, and (b) the investigation of how such stored forms are
converted into actual speech. Here I discuss certainresults that bear on these
issues. In particular,I addressevidence thatbears on propertiesof phonologi-
cal representation, that is, on properties of the inherent structureof the
phonological objects that are stored and manipulatedby the phonological


In linear theories of phonology, notably that of Chomsky & Halle (6), a
phonological representationconsists of a linear sequence of matrixes, each

matrixcomposed of an unstructuredset of binarydistinctivefeaturespecifica-

tions. In large measure, each matrixconstitutesone segment, and each feature
represents one independently manipulable phonological property. For ex-
ample, the initial segment [s] in a word like Sam has, among others, the
following properties:3(a) it is not the peak of a syllable, hence [-syllabic];
(b) the passage of air is continuous through the oral cavity, hence
[+continuant]; (c) there is no passage of air throughthe nasal cavity, hence
[-nasal]; and (d) the vocal cords in the larynx ("Adam's apple") are spread
apart so as to allow free passage of air, hence [-voiced]. Moving our
considerationto the vowel [ae] that follows [s], we see somewhat different
values for the same features: (a) unlike [s], [ae] does constitute a syllable
peak, hence [+syllabic]; (b) like [s], the air passage throughthe oral tractis
continuous, and there is similarly no passage of air throughthe nasal cavity,
hence [+continuant, -nasal]; (c) unlike [s], the vocal cords are vibrating
duringthe productionof [ae],hence [+voiced].4 Looking at the same features
as involved in the final segment [m] of Sam, we observe still differentvalues:
(a) as with [s], [m] is not a syllable peak, hence [-syllabic]; (b) unlike both
[s] and [ae], air passage throughthe oral cavity is completely obstructedfor
[m], hence [-continuant]; (c) also unlike both [s] and [ae], air is allowed to
pass through the nose, hence [+nasal]; (d) finally, as with [ae], the vocal
cords are in vibration, hence [+voiced]. The phonological representationof
Sam in a linear theory would therefore be (in part) as follows:
s m

-syllabic + syllabic -syllabic

+continuant + continuant - continuant 1.
-nasal -nasal +nasal
-voiced +voiced +voiced

A large body of work over the last 15 or so years has demonstratedthe

inadequacy of such linear representations. On the one hand, it has been
arguedthat the notion of "segment"does not correspondin a simple fashion
with discrete sets of binaryfeaturespecifications. In many cases, one or more
features may characterizea whole set of segments, and in others, a feature

'Here and throughoutthis paper, square brackets ("[1")are employed to indicate phonetic
transcriptions(of varying degrees of detail). Such transcriptionsrepresent in a standardized
alphabetthe actualsoundsof an utterance.For example, the word "phlegm"would be represented
as [flEm]:Orthographic"ph"representsa single sound [f]; the sound of orthographic"e" in this
word is representedphoneticallyas [E];orthographic"g" does not representa phonetic segment,
hence is excluded from the transcription.Aspects of transcriptionsthatare crucialare commented
on in the text.
4For simple verification, place a finger on the outside of the larynx and produce first a
prolonged [>e],then a prolonged [s], comparingthe presence vs absence of vibrationin the two

value may change duringthe course of a single segment. (Examples of both

types are discussed below.) The result is thatthe notion of "segment"must be
separatedconceptuallyfrom the notion of the featuresby which segments are
realized.5 In the example of Sam this necessitates the identificationof three
segments (or SKELETAL units), namely cvc. This move has immediate im-
plications for a feature such as [?syllabic]. Whereas a segment's value for
continuancyor nasalitycan be assigned independently,the determinationof a
segment's syllabicity is in large measure a result of how the segment is
grouped together with other segments into constituents. For example, the
vowel [i] of a word like bee is featurallycomparableto the semi-vowel [y] of
a word like yet. The crucial difference between the two segments is that the
formerconstitutesthe peak of a syllable, while the latterconstitutesa syllabic
margin. Hence [+syllabic] can be abandonedin favor of a direct representa-
tion of syllable structure. And as a final step in the reorganizationof the
featuresin Example 1, there is considerableevidence that distinctive features
themselves are not an unorganized set of features, each with comparable
status. Instead, such featurescan be shown to be organizedinto various sets.
For example, the total set of features (the ROOT) can be divided into
LARYNGEAL and SUPRALARYNGEAL specifications, along with various sub-
divisions. Such set structurecan be graphicallyrepresentedby assigning each
set to a different half-plane in a hierarchicalrepresentation.Hence the net
result of such developmentsis thatthe (partial)linearrepresentationof a word
like Sam given in Example 1 can be replaced by a much more highly
articulated,nonlinearrepresentationas in Example 2 below (o- = syllable; C
= consonant; V = vowel):
cf ...... syllabiclevel
c v ...... segmental level
-, - ...... root features
- - -
= [?-continuant])
~~~~~~~~~(?'c 2.
-& X,_ o9__\\._'ot
_ - . laryngealfeatures
(?v= [?+voiced])
A supralaryngeal
(?n = [_nasal])

s Q m

In the following sections, we consider representativepropertiesthat moti-

vate the type of departurefrom linear representationsjust illustrated.

5For various proposalsconcerning the natureof the "segmental"level of representation,see,

for example, McCarthy(26), Clements & Keyser (9), and Levin (24). Recently, even the notion
of "segment"itself has been abandonedin certainproposals in favor of differentconceptions of
coordinatingprosodic units such as the mora. See, for example, McCarthy& Prince (27) and
Hayes (17).

In a linear theory such as that illustratedin Example 1, the only constituents
into which phonological segments are groupedare defined morphologicallyor
syntactically.That is, phonological segments are groupedtogetherto make up
morphemes, to make up words, to make up phrases, and so on. But an
examination of data from a wide array of languages makes it clear that
segments can also be grouped into constituents on purely phonological
For example, Clements & Keyser (9:59-60) discuss five independent
phonological rules of Turkish, all of which involve an environmentcrucially
referring to a consonant that is either word-final or followed by another
consonant. Such a systematic disjunction is problematicfor a linear theory
because the two environments share no formal properties.
To illustrate,consonantsin Turkishmay be long (geminate)or short. When
a geminateconsonantoccurs before a vowel, it is retained;but when the same
consonant occurs either word-finally or before a consonant (the disjunction
under consideration), the geminate consonant is shortened:

Accusative Nominative Ablative

"feeling" hiss+i his his+ten 3.
"right" hakk+i hak hak+tan
"price increase" zamm+i zam zam+dan

If this constellationof environmentswere an idiosyncracyof degemination

only, then there would be no particularproblem in formulatingthe rule so as
to refer explicitly to a disjunctive class. In fact, however, work like that of
Clements & Keyser has shown this not to be the case. First, the disjunction
recursin the phonology of Turkish. As alreadymentioned, the same environ-
ment is importantfor at least five independentprocesses. Second, the same
disjunction appears as an environment in the processes of numerous other
The nonlinear solution to this problem is to organize the phonological
representationinto syllables, as shown below for the forms of "right"in
Example 3 (o-a syllable):

h a kk+ i h/k h/k + tLn

In the case of hakk+i, the geminate consonant is retainedbecause it can be

syllabified;in hak and hak+ tan, on the otherhand, the geminatewould occur
in syllable-final position, and it is precisely in that case that it is shortened.
Crucially, because of the establishment of syllabic constituents, the dis-

junctive referenceto "word-finalor followed by a consonant"can be replaced

by the single condition: "syllable-finalposition."
A wide variety of phonological phenomena have been demonstratedto
involve syllable structure.6In addition, METRICALconstituentslargerthan the
syllable have been shown to play a majorrole in a wide range of phenomena.
The establishmentof FEET-a particulartype of groupingof syllables-is the
central aspect of stress determination,for example.7 The central idea is that
sequences of syllables are organized into feet according to an algorithm
establishedby making a small numberof parametricallydeterminedchoices.
Within the foot, a "head"syllable (ultimatelythe stressed syllable) is located
at eitherthe right or left periphery(dependingon the language)and "nonhead"
syllables (ultimatelyunstressed)are distinguishedby rules that assign phonet-
ic prominence to the head (for example, increased durationor amplitude,
changes in pitch or vowel quality). Feet in turn can be grouped into larger
constituents (such as the WORD) to determine the relative prominence of
different stressed syllables. For illustration,consider the metricalstructureof
words like kangaroo and onomatopoeia:8

w w

an g
k an g a o
I nA o mA
A n gA roo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ a
t o poei

kAngaROO OnomAtoPOEIa

These structuresare interpretedas follows: Main stress is assigned to the final

foot in each word (roo in the first case, poeia in the second). Within the
stressedfoot, prominencefalls on the leftmost syllable. In feet thatdo receive
main stress, a secondarystress falls on the head-again, the leftmost syllable
of the foot.
Apart from syllables and constituents established for purposes of stress,
various larger phonological constituentsconstitutethe domain of application

6See, for example, Kahn (21), Clements& Keyser (9), Steriade(37), Levin (24), McCarthy&
Prince (27), 1to (19, 20), and Hayes (17).
7See, for example, Liberman & Prince (25), Hayes (14, 15), Hammond (13), Halle &
Vergnaud (12); for a contraryview about the role of constituency, see Prince (30).
8Keepin mind thatphonologicalconstituentsare actuallyerectedover phonologicalsegments,
not orthographicalsymbols. For example, the sequence"oei"in onomatopoeiarepresentsa single
vowel, not three separatevowels. The structureshere are slightly simplified, and the reader is
referredto alreadycited work for details. Heads of foot ("4") and word ("W")level constituents
are indicated by a small circle. Main stress is indicated by capital letters, secondary stress by
small capitals.

of a large class of phrase-level phonological processes. For discussion, see

Zwicky & Kaisse (39) and the many papers and references there.
Segment Structure
In the remainderof this article, I discuss a ratherdifferentaspect of the move
away from linear phonological representations.In addition to the grouping
together of segments into phonological constituents, much recent work in
phonological theory has demonstratedthe need to establish a fairly high
degree of segment-internalstructure.

CONTOUR SEGMENTS Let us begin by considering the class of segments

referredto as contour segments. These are segments whose value for some
featurechanges duringthe course of the segment. For example, aifricates are
segments that begin with a complete stoppage of air (as in the stops [p] and
[t]) and that finish with friction (as in the fricatives [f] and [s]). Examples of
affricatesare the initial consonantsof the GermanwordsPferd [pfe:rt]"horse"
and Zeit [tsayt] "time". A second type of contour segment involves pre-
nasalization, a situationwhere the first portion of a segment is nasal but the
latterportionis oral, as in the segments [mb]and [ad]of Tiv: i'mbor"springof
water", ve?nd"refused".A third example is that of a contour tone. In many
languages, the pitch values on vowels serve a contrastivefunction. In Yoruba,
for example, the consonant vowel sequence [ku] produces three completely
different words depending on the pitch of the voice: on a high pitch, [k6]
"build";on a mid pitch, [k5] "write";on a low pitch, [k5] "refuse".Two types
of tones can be distinguished, level tones and contour tones, level tones
correspondingto a steady pitch and contour tones to a changing pitch. The
rising ("9") and falling tones ("^") of the following examples from Yoruba
constitute examples of contour tones: i'we"book",,abu'ro"youngersibling".
At issue is how to representsuch contour segments. The nonlinear(AUTO-
SEGMENTAL)proposal(for which some evidence is providedbelow) is to adopt
a representationthat in essence reflects traditionalphonetic observations.
Contoursegments are analyzedas bearingtwo (or sometimes more) values for
the same feature:9

a. Affricate: b. Prenasalization: c. Rising & falling tones:

-c +c +n -n L H H L

Such a solution, which is supported by a large body of evidence, is

inherentlyimpossible within a linear theory of the type illustratedin Example

9In Example6, "+c" = [+continuant], "?n" = [+nasal], "L" = low tone, "H" = high tone.

1. In such an approach,segments consist of matrixesof unorderedfeatures. If

a single segment had two feature specifications, this would simply provide
conflicting values to the segment (11). As a result, lineartheories must adopt
additional, essentially ad hoc distinctive features to describe such segment
types. For example, Chomsky & Halle (6) propose the special feature
[?delayed release] for affricates:simple stops would be [-delayed release]
while affricates would be [+delayed release]. Comparableproposals have
also been made for prenasalizationand tonal contours.
But consider the following data from Kukuya (18, 28). There are exactly
five tonal possibilities for a stem in Kukuya, regardless of the number of
tone-bearing vowels actually present in the stem. 10

L stem: ba "grasshopperkiller"
bAaa "jealousy"
bala "build"
baaIa 1"cleave"
balaga "change a route"

H stem: ba "oil palms"

baa "cheeks"
baga "show knives"
baama "liana"
balaga "fence"

LH stem: saa "seed necklace"
samI "conversation"
saabI "roofing"
mW ragi "younger brother"

HL stem: k6aa "grill"

kara "paralytic"
kaara "be just right"
karaga "be entangled"

LHL stem: baamI "wakes up"

kalagI "turnsaround"

In Example 7, the five tonal possibilities are illustratedwith stems contain-

ing enough vowels to realize every tone of a melody individually. L and H
stems are realized by assigning the single tone of the melody to all vowels of
the stem:

10Forpurposesof the discussion here, stem can be interpretedas "uninflectedverb or noun,"

the precise definitionbeing unimportant.For detaileddiscussion, see Hyman (18). The examples
that follow abstractaway from any pre-stemprefix thatmight occur on the surface, and give tonal
forms appropriatefor a stem occurring immediately preceding another stem.

L stems: b a b a I a b a ga


H stems: b a b a\g/a b a Ig a


LH and HL stems are realizedby distributingthe two tones of the melody over
the available vowels of the stem. In the case of the sequence HL, the H and L
are assigned by a left-to-rightconvention, the final L subsequentlyassigned to
any leftover vowels to its right:11

HL stems: k a a k a r a k a r a g a
I I I I a9I

LH stems are comparable except that in examples with three vowels, the
associations are modified in such a way that the initial L tone of the melody is
linked to the first two vowels:

LH stems: s a a s a m mw a r a g I

lI I I 10.

Of particularinterest, however, are the cases where there are not enough
vowels for the tones of a particularmelody to be assigned to individual
vowels. It is precisely in such cases that contourtones appear-that is, tones
with a changing pitch curve. Correspondingto the HL cases of Example 9, a
falling tone is observedon a monosyllable;and correspondingto the LH cases
of Example 10, monosyllables exhibit a rising tone:

HL stems: ka LH stems: sa

LH 11.

ka "pick" sa "weaving knot"

Similarly, monosyllables with the LHL patternsurface with a complex tonal

contourthat first rises then falls, and disyllables with the LHL patternsurface
with a L tone on the first syllable and a falling contour on the second:

"1SeeHyman (18) for a discussion of Kukuyaand Pulleyblank(31) for a generaldiscussion of

the conventions by which tones are associated.

LHL stems: bv I k a a y
bvI "falls" kaay "loses weight"
All such contours are the expected result of an account with the following
properties:(a) five tonal melodies are posited for Kukuya:L, H, LH, HL,
LHL; (b) these melodies are freely combined with stems of any number of
vowels; (c) combinationsof tones on a single vowel arepermitted,resultingin
surface contours. All three propertiesconstitute argumentsagainst a strictly
linear theory of phonology. Within a segmental theory of the type seen in
Example 1, it would not be expected thatsome single featureor set of features
would have a status completely independentof the others. That is, since all
featuresare simply componentsof unorderedfeaturematrixes, therewould be
no reason to expect the existence of melodic units composed of some subsetof
such unstructuredfeatures. In a nonlinearmodel, however, the existence of
melodic sequences (such as the tonal melodies of Kukuya) is completely
unsurprisingsince particularfeature classes can be assigned a status that is
independent of both other features and their assignment to particularseg-
In addition, since sequences of features cannot be assigned to a single
segment within a segmental model, the cases in Examples 11 and 12 would
require the postulation of additional, intrinsically contoured tone features.
The immediateproblemraised by such an approachconcerns the distribution
of such tones. A rising-fallingtone must be restrictedto monosyllabic stems;
rising and falling tones must be restrictedto monosyllabicor disyllabic stems,
with the additionalrestrictionon a disyllabic stem that such contours appear
only on the second vowel. Such clearly ad hoc restrictionsare unnecessaryif
contours are formally analyzed as consisting of a sequence of simple L and H
tones assigned to a single vowel-the nonlinear analysis.
This analysis can also explain contextual conditions on the creation of
contours even in languages that do not exhibit any evidence for tonal melo-
dies. For example in Yoruba (31), a rising contouris createdwhen a H tone
immediatelyfollows a L tone-a simple assimilationof the H toned vowel to
the preceding L toned vowel. Although the three lexical tones of Yorubaare
all level (high, mid, low), ri-singcontoursappearon the final syllable of words
like the following:
a. iwe "book"
b. ek6 "Lagos" 13.
c. akpa "scar"

For a linear theory, such cases presentthe same type of problem seen above.

Some intrinsically contoured tone feature would have to be posited, with a

contextuallydependentvalue assigned here. In a nonlinearapproach,the case
is straightforwardlyaccountedfor by spreadingthe L tone of the first syllable
onto the second syllable-thereby representing formally the assimilatory
nature of the process:

a.i w e -i w e b. e k >e k o c. a kp a -a kp a 14.

K 1H

MULTIPLE LINKINGS Expressed in autosegmentalterms, a linear model of

phonology makes the claim that all associations of features to segments are
one-to-one. In the last section, we saw evidence in favor of allowing linkings
of a differenttype, namely many-to-one(multipletones to a single segment).
It was also suggested thatone-to-manyassociationsexist (one tone to multiple
segments) in cases where a single melodic element links to more than one
vowel. There is straightforwardevidence in favor of this hypothesis.
Returningto Kukuya, it was mentionedin Footnote 10 that the forms given
in Example 7 were forms appropriatefor a context where a stem immediately
precedes another stem. In other contexts, the tonal forms of Example 7
undergocertainmodifications. Of interesthere is a rule thatlowers a H tone to
M (mid) when an appropriatestem appearsbefore a pause:

H stem: ba "oil palms"
baai "cheeks"
baiga "show knives" 15.
baadma "liana"
balaga "fence"

As seen in Example 15, all H tones of a stem are affected by this rule. In an
autosegmentalapproach, this is straightforwardlyrepresentedby the follow-
ing rule (18):

H -- M/_11- // 16.

This rule is interpretedas changing a H tone into a M when such a H occurs in

pre-pausal("//") position. Assuming one-to-manylinkings, its effect is illus-
trated in Example 17:
a. ba ba b. baga baga c. balaga balaga

J VV \/ t V 17.
H ->M H M H M

Precisely as a result of the one-to-manylinkings posited, the entire sequence

of H tones present on any given stem is affected as a unit by the pre-pausal
lowering rule.
Comparethis analysis with the treatmentthat would be requiredin a linear
theory. Since each segmental matrix would require an individual tonal
specification, the rule as formulatedwould affect only the rightmostH tone,
correctly deriving ba "oil palms", but incorrectlyderiving forms like *baga
"show knives" and *baldga "fence". To correct this situation, the rule of
lowering would have to be complicated somewhat by adding an additional
triggering environment(where the curly brackets "{}" indicate a disjunctive

H -- M /- ll18.

According to this rule, a pre-pausal H tone would be lowered to M; sub-

sequently, any additional H tones preceding the derived M tone would
iteratively undergo lowering. The derivation of a form like bdldgd "fence"
would thereforeproceed as follows: baladga - baladga-> balalgd-> balaga.
Such a linear approachto lowering poses immediateproblems, however. It
is possible to combine a stem with a prefix, and such a prefix may bear a H
tone-as in Example 19, where the H tone prefix indicatesa copularconstruc-

ma + ba ma + ba 1I mdba "they are oil-palms"

I I I l 19.
H H-- H M

As seen, it is only the second H-the pre-pausalH-that undergoeslowering.

As pointedout by Hyman, this is precisely the expected resultin the nonlinear
approachadopting the rule in Example 16: Only a prepausalH lowers. In
Example 17, this affects all stem vowels; and in Example 19, the rule affects
the stem vowel only-not affecting a prefix bearing its own independentH
For a linear account, however, such cases presenta problem. Since such an
approachis forced to posit a lowering rule as in Example 18, a rule thataffects
a H tone preceding a M tone, it incorrectlypredicts that the H of a prefix
should also undergo lowering: *mabd. To correct this situation, the linear
account would be forced to incorporatesome otherwise unmotivatedrestric-
tion on the application of lowering.
In conclusion, we see that the nonlinearapproachto such data explains a

wide range of properties.The rangeof tonal possibilities observedon stems is

explained by the free combination of five tonal melodies to stems of any
length. The restricteddistributionof tonal contours is predictedto occur in
precisely the manner attested. And the manner in which a rule such as
lowering affects sequences of stem vowels is similarly predictedfrom a rule
formulation of the simplest type.

GEMINATES In the last section, I argued that different nonlinear con-

figurationsof featuresmanifestthemselves in the way thatphonologicalrules
apply to them. In Kukuya, mabd "they are oil palms" behaves differently
from bdgd "show knives" with respect to the tonal lowering rule discussed,
because the former has two (morphologicallymotivated) H tones while the
latterhas a single H tone. This type of representationaldistinctionis crucialin
understandingthe often ratherspecial behaviorof geminate (long) segments.
Geminates often presentsomethingof a paradox. On the one hand, such long
segments can behave as though they are a sequence of short segments;on the
other hand, they can behave as though they are a single, inherently long
segment. Within linear models of phonology, such ambiguity results in
serious problems of representation.Within nonlinear models, on the other
hand, there is no ambiguity per se: Sequential behavior results from a rule
applying to the skeletal level of representation;single segment behavior
results from a rule applying to the melodic level.

Geminate [] Geminate [] Melodic level 20.

vowels: /\ consonants: /\
V V C C Skeletal level

Sequential behavior Consider, for example, a rule from Ojibwa, which

deletes a vowel at the end of a word, as observablein the following pairs of
examples where the final vowel of the stem deletes in the singularforms but is
retained in the plural forms owing to the presence of the suffix min (29).

a. ni-gftim "I am lazy"

ni-gitimi-min "we are lazy"
b. ni-nagam "I sing"
ni-nagamo-min "we sing" 21.
c. ni-namadap "I sit"
ni-namadabi-min "we sit"

Formulated as a rule affecting the skeletal level of representation(12), a

nonlinear theory accounts straightforwardlyfor the additionalfact that long
vowels (represented as a vowel followed by a colon) are shortened-not
deleted-in examples such as 22:

a. ni-bimose "I walk"

ni-bfmose:-min "we walk"
b. ni-nfbA "I sleep"
ni-nf'bA:-min "we sleep" 22.
c. ni-bimibat6 "I run"
ni-bimiba:-min "we run"

A single rule of skeletal deletion accountsfor both the examples with short
vowels (Example 21) and the examples with long vowels (Example 22):12
a. n a g a m o b. b i m o s e
C V C V C( C VCV C V( Deletion 23.
0 0

n a g a m b i m o s e
I I lI

Processes of this type that affect solely the skeletal level of representationare
entirely consistent with a sequential analysis of long vowels.

Single segment behavior Such behaviorcontrasts,however, with the results

of rules that affect the actuatfeaturemake-upof a geminate segment. Consid-
er, for example, a rule of palatalizationin LuGanda.Velar consonants [k, g]
are optionallypronouncedas palatal [c, j] when they precedeeitherthe vowel
[i] or the semi-vowel [y] (7). For example, both velar and palatalvariantsare
possible for words such as the following:

a. kiintu - ciintu "thing"

b. bwoogi - bwooji "sharpness" 24.

This rule, which affects not the skeletal level of representationbut the actual
melodic composition of a segment, applies in a manner so as to affect an
entire geminate:

oluggi - olujji "door" 25.

Note specifically that the geminate does not exhibit sequentialproperties.A

form like *olugji is not a possible variant. In addition, note that even the
conditioning environment is melodic rather than skeletal in nature: The

12I am simplifying the process somewhat here. For details, see Piggott (29) and Halle &

Vergnaud (12).

featuresof [i]/[y] triggerpalatalization,whetherassignedto a V-slot ([i]) or to

a C-slot ([y]).

a. OLDn t u b. o I u (
K nt u o I u ) Palatalization 26.
c vvc v v cv c cv

In conclusion, we see that a nonlineattheory straightforwardlyaccountsfor

both the sequential and the single-segment behavior of geminate segments,
predicting sequential behavior in rules affecting the skeleton, and single-
segment behavior in rules affecting the melodic representation.

Inalterability There is anotherway in which a nonlineartheory can provide

an interesting account of properties exhibited by geminates. Consider the
behavior of certaingeminate consonantsin Tigrinyawith respect to a rule of
spirantizationthat causes velar stops to become fricativesimmediatelyafter a
vowel (3, 16, 23, 35, 36). That is, when following a vowel, the closure
observed in segments like [k, k'] is released sufficiently to allow friction,
thereby creating [x, 1].13 For example, the initial consonantof a suffix like
ka "your (masculine singular)"appears as a stop when attached to a con-
sonant-final stem:

misar-ka "your (masc. sg.) axe" 27.

If the same suffix is attached to a vowel-final stem, then spirantization

changes the initial [k] of the suffix into [x]:

sant'a-xa "your (masc. sg.) bag" 28.

But while spirantizationapplies to a nongeminateconsonantas in Example

28, it fails to apply to a post-vocalic geminate:

akkat "kind of fruit" * axkat * axxat 29.

To understandthe inapplicability of spirantizationin such cases, it is

"There is dialectal variationas to the segments affected by spirantization.See, for example,

Bagemihl (3).

importantto consider both the conditioningenvironmentfor the rule and the

change the rule brings about. First, since the rule refers to a post-vocalic
consonant, reference is being made to the skeletal level of representation;
second, because the change effected by the rule involves the feature of
continuancy, the rule also involves the melodic level of representation.
k -- x Melodic level
1 30.
V C Skeletal Level

Given the structureassigned to a geminate consonant within a nonlinear

theory, a paradox is created as far as spirantizationis concerned.

[k] Melodic level 31.

V CC Skeletal Level

Since there is indeed a post-vocalic velar stop, spirantizationwould be

expected to create a velar fricative;but if the [k] of Example 31 is changedto
[x], then the entiregeminate is affected-resulting in a rule applicationwhere
a post-consonantalvelar (the second half of the geminate)is affectedby a rule
targeting only post-vocalic segments. Work such as that of Hayes (16) and
Schein & Steriade (36) has argued that it is such structuralincompatibility
with the potentialresults of rule applicationthatbrings aboutthe rule's failure
to apply. A rule referringonly to the skeletal level (as in the Ojibwa case
above) can affect partof a geminate;a rule referringonly to the melodic level
(as in the LuGanda case above) can affect the entire geminate; but a rule
referringto both skeletal and melodic levels is blocked unless all the require-
ments for rule applicationare met by both halves of the geminate (a condition
not met in Tigrinya spirantization).
As a final note, consider the predictionsof a linear theory with respect to
cases like spirantization.A geminate consonantmight either be analyzed as a
sequence of simple consonants (Example 32a), or as a single consonant
bearing an ad hoc feature such as "[+long]" (Example 32b):

a. [] b. [g +g 2

L..IL.IL.0 L-~longM +longJ

a k k a kk

Under the sequential analysis of Example 32a, a linear theory would in-
correctly predict the application of spirantization,producing forms such as

*axkatfor "kindof fruit".Underthe feature-basedanalysis of Example32b, a

linear theory makes no predictionswhatsoever:The rule could stipulatethat
application is restricted to "[-long]" consonants, or the rule could apply
freely to all consonants without taking into considerationtheir length.
Clearly the sequential analysis is inadequate since it derives incorrect
surface forms. It can be argued, moreover, that the feature-basedanalysis is
equally inadequate. It predicts that a cross-linguistic survey of geminates
should produce roughly equal numbersof cases where geminates do and do
not undergo rules such as spirantization. Both Hayes (16) and Schein &
Steriade (36) argue, however, that the true cross-linguistic generalizationis
that geminates fail to undergo such rules ("geminateinalterability")-a result
that is explained in a nonlinear theory but that can only be stipulated in a
linear account.
As a final point, recall from earlierdiscussion of Kukuya(Example 19) that
two melodic elements appearin the representationof any case where features
originatein distinct morphemes. That is, a surface "geminate"may have two
possible structuresdepending on the morphologicalorigin of the segments:

a. "True"geminate: k b. "Fake"geminate: k + k 33.

/\ I
cc c C

As seen above, true geminates exhibit inalterabilityeffects, blocking the

application of rules such as spirantization.A fake geminate, on the other
hand, would be expected to undergo such a rule, the rule affecting only the
first half of the apparentgeminate. Hence the surfacesequence [ . . . xk ... ]
can be derived in Tigrinya when the two velar consonants originate in
different morphemes:

mirax-ka "your (masc. sg.) calf" *mirakka 34.

FEATURE GEOMETRY To conclude this introductionto segment structure,I

discuss a rather different type of problem for a purely linear phonological
theory. Rules of phonology often involve more than a single feature. For
example, a nasal in Yorubaassimilatesto the entire set of place featuresof an
immediately following consonant. Consider the various realisations of the
progressive marker:

a. ffi-b5 "be coming"

b. ii-15 "be going"
c. A-j6 "be dancing" 35.
d. f-koja "be passing"
e. nm-kpa "bekilling"

The nasal is labial before a labial consonant(Example35a), alveolarbefore an

alveolar consonant (Example 35b), palatal before a palatal consonant (Ex-
ample 35c), velar before a velar consonant(Example35d), labial-velarbefore
a labial-velar consonant (Example 35e).
Within a linear theory, this means that the values of a set of distinctive
featuresmust be affected by a single rule. Assuming the relevantfeaturesfor
Yoruba to be [coronal] (articulatedwith the tip or blade of the tongue),
[anterior](articulatedat or in frontof the alveolarridge), and [labial] (involv-
ing an articulationat the lips), a linearlyformulatedrule could be expressedas
[+nasal] -- acoronal / Fsyllabic
,3anterior acoronal 36.
8labial janterior

This rule is to be read, "a nasal has the same values for [coronal], [anterior],
and [labial] as a following consonant," the Greek variables a, ,B and 8
indicating dependencies between feature values.
As pointedout by K. P. Mohanan,and developed in numerouspaperssince
then (e.g. 1, 8, 33), there are a variety of problems with such a linear
approach. Consider two examples.
The first problem is that of feature dependency. In a linear theory, the
formal notation employed to express dependenciesbetween featurevalues is
that of variables with interdependentvalues, as just seen. This notation,
however, allows the expressionof a wide numberof unattesteddependencies.
For example, althoughit is common to have the value of a feature[F] on one
segment be dependenton a value of the same feature[F] on anothersegment,
it is undesirableto allow a general mechanismwherebyboth + and - values
of [F] depend on the values of some second feature [G]. For example, a rule
identical to Example 36 but with revised featuredependenciesas in Example
37 is impossible:

[+nasal] --> acoronal I -syllabic

,lanterior ,l3coronal 37.
cl abial janterior

Although formally just as simple as Example 36, with the Yoruba data just
cited this rule would have bizarreeffects like (a) deriving a bilabial nasal [m]
before an alveolar [d] (thatis, a [+anterior, -coronal, +labial] nasal before a
[+anterior, +coronal, -labial] consonant), and (b) deriving a palatal nasal
before a doubly articulatedlabial-velaras well as otherwise unattestedcon-

sonants before labials and palatals. Even the rule's only plausible result (the
derivation of a velar nasal before a velar consonant) must presumably be
considered accidental.
Although this problem might be solved by some form of condition on
interfeaturedependencies, an additional shortcoming of linear theories of
assimilation is the problem of natural classes. Rules such as Example 36
clearly demonstratethat a single rule can affect more than one feature. But if
this is the case, then what are the-featurecombinationscapableof functioning
as sets in phonological rules? If one adopts for the sake of concretenessa set
of 20 features [note Chomsky & Halle (6)], then there would in principle be
190 distinctcombinationsof two features, 1140 distinctcombinationsof three
features, and so on. But allowing such free combinationof features vastly
overgeneratesthe types of sets actually attested in phonological processes.
Problems such as these receive straightforwardsolutions within an appro-
priate nonlinear framework. Let us begin by assuming that features do not
constitute unorderedsets, but that they are intrinsically structuredso as to
reflect certain articulatoryproperties. Following work by Clements (7) and
Sagey (33), let us assume that the overall set of features(which is labelled the
ROOT, following a proposalby K. P. Mohanan)is divided into LARYNGEAL and
SUPRALARYNGEAL sets. If we think of the vocal tractas essentially a system of
tubes throughwhich air passes to produce speech, then one can think of the
laryngealfeaturesas determiningwhether, among otherthings, the column of
air passing throughthe system is vibratingor not; the supralaryngealfeatures,
on the otherhand, determinethe shape and volume of the vocal tract, thereby
determiningthe quality of the resulting sound. Within the set of supralaryn-
geal features, a further subset is the class of PLACE features, with further
subsets under place consisting of the features related to individual articula-
tors-for example, LABIAL for the movements of the lower lip, CORONAL for
the tip or blade of the tongue, and DORSAL for the body of the tongue. The set
structureso far described can be representedby a tree as follows:

A ,. rootnode
...... laryngeal node
...... supralaryngealnode
... place node 38.
o~~-~ ~. --. ....labial node

- - - - -o -\ jJ
....- coronal node

____ o--< ... dorsal node

Such a structureconstitutes a substantiveproposal concerning the sets of


features that can function as classes in the formulationof phonological rules,

responding to the natural classes problem discussed in relation to linear
theories. The claim is that it is precisely those groups of features dominated
by a class node in the appropriateset structurethatconstitutenaturalclasses in
phonological processes. In the forms of the Yorubaprogressive markerseen
in Example 35, for example, the set of featuresthat undergoesassimilationis
the set of PLACE features.
The proposal in Example 38 also provides a simple solution to thefeature
dependencyproblem. By adoptingthe autosegmentalproposalthat each node
of such a tree representationconstitutes an independent level, nodes can
extend their domains independentof othernodes. Illustratingwith the Yoruba
instance seen in Example 35, the place featuresof the relevantconsonantscan
extend their domain so as to characterizeboth the supralaryngealnodes of the
consonantsand the supralaryngealnodes of a precedingnasal (illustratedhere
with the partialtrees appropriatefor bilabial and alveolar places of articula-
tion, and with assimilation indicated by an arrow):
m - b n - d

...... skeleton
L 1- ? 1_ | ..... root node
laryngeal .. \ \ ....\\\
node ......
...... supralaryngealnode 39.
)< j place node
/____ \ coronal node
labial node ......_L_ _ _ _ _

Each consonant has a skeletal level of representation,as well as a root node

and a supralaryngealnode. The two pairsof consonantsshareplace nodes as a
result of the assimilationrule illustratedin Example 35. Because of assimila-
tion, the labial specifications of [b] are shared by the progressive marker,
deriving [m]; the coronal specificationsof [d] cause the progressivemarkerto
be realized as [n] in a similar fashion.
The importantpoint with respect to thefeature dependencyproblemis that
the relationbetween the place values of the two consonantsdoes not formally
require any type of variable notation. The domain of the relevant place
features is simply increased from one segment to two. An assimilatory
process such as thatunderdiscussion is thereforestraightforwardlyaccounted
for, while an impossible process such as thatseen in Example 37 is impossible
to express.

Opacity To conclude this discussion of hierarchical feature structure, I

demonstrateone additionaltype of result obtainedwithin such a framework.

Considerthe following observationconcerning sequences of vowels in verbs

of Tiv: The second of a sequence of vowels is identicalto the first vowel if (a)
the two vowels are adjacent,or (b) the consonantinterveningbetween the two
vowels is [h]. As illustration,considerthe following sequences of [a] and [e],
[o] and [o].14

a..e kase "surround" -

a na " kaha "hoe" vaa "weep, cry" 40.

3. .o n:)ndo "dnip"_
J..) l)h) "summon" yxv "make proclamation"

As can be seen from this table, the sequences [a..e] and [:..o] are possible
only with an intervening consonant other than [h]; the sequences [a..a] and
[.. ], on the other hand, are possible with adjacent vowels, or when an
intervening consonant is [h].
Puttingaside the problemof the cases involving [h], the patternin Example
40 is straightforwardlyderived by positing a rule that assimilates a vowel to
an immediately preceding vowel. Assuming that the sequences [a..a] and
.. ] do not appearunderlyinglyin Tiv [as can indeed be argued(32)], vaa
andyox are thereforederived by the applicationof assimilationto priorforms
/vae/ and IyjoI. The problem is how to account for the applicabilityof this
rule of vocalic assimilation to sequences of vowels with an intervening[h].
To achieve this end, let us assume that the requiredrule is one that spreads
the supralaryngealset of specifications, that is, a rule along the following
v v

i o root node 41.

O supralaryngealnode

This rule extends the domain of the supralaryngealspecificationsof the first

vowel to include the second vowel.
An account of the applicabilityof assimilation over [h] is now available.
An examinationof the consonantinventoryof Tiv reveals that [h] is the only

1"Thevowels [a, e (both produced without lip-rounding)cannot co-occur with [L, ol (both
producedwith lip-rounding)because of a rule causing agreementin roundingin such forms (32).
The surface tonal patterns of verbal forms depend on how a verb is inflected. Since this is
irrelevanthere, tone is not indicated below (but see 31).

consonant lacking supralaryngealspecifications. In producing an [h], the

vocal cords in the larynx are spread, but the remainderof the vocal tract is
unaffected. All other consonants ([s] is used here for illustration)involve a
supralaryngealconstriction of some kind. As a consequence, the relevant
configurations for sequences of vowels with or without consonants are as
a. a e b. a h e c. a s e
v v v cv v cv
o o
I oIIo o
o o root node 42.

1o1 o o J A supralaryngealnode

Assimilation is applicablein the first two cases but blocked in the third case
by the supralaryngealspecification of the intervening consonant:
a. a a b. a h a c. a s e

l l 0 0 0 o o o root node 43.

O Q o o o supralaryngealnode

Hence a hierarchicalrepresentationof segment-internalstructureprovides

more thanjust a characterizationof the naturalclasses that undergorules. In
addition, such an approachprovides an account of why particularclasses of
segments aretransparentto certaintypes of assimilatoryprocesses (as with [h]
in the Tiv example) or opaque to such processes (as with all other consonants
in this example).
To close this section, it is importantto note two things. First, the Tiv case
just discussed is typical of a fair number of examples of translaryngeal
assimilation. The hierarchicalanalysis presented for Tiv is adopted from a
general proposal developed in a cross-linguistic survey of such cases by
Steriade (38). Second, a linear theory such as that of Chomsky & Halle (6)
can provide no insightful account of the special propertyof laryngeal con-
sonants like [h] with respect to supralaryngealassimilation. While such
consonants could by stipulationbe excluded from the class of segments that
block assimilation, there is no principledreason for such exclusion in a linear

The approachto phonology presented here is one that crucially involves a
numberof semi-independentsubtheories. Segments are externallyorganized

into constituents according to theories of syllabification, metrical (stress)

structure, and prosodic domains; segments are internally organized into a
highly articulatedset structure. Crucial use is made of two types of con-
straints. On the one hand, certain "internal"constraints are built into the
architectureof the theory. For example, the set of place featurescan assimi-
late as a unit because it is assigned to a single node in the hierarchicalfeature
structure;a set of featureslike [round], [nasal], and [High tone], on the other
hand, cannot function as a unit because no node in the feature hierarchy
corresponds to such a grouping. In addition, certain "external"conditions
furtherconstrainthe operationof phonological rules. For example, the condi-
tion on rule application discussed in the context of Tigrinya spirantization
prevents a particularclass of rules from applying to representationswith a
geminate structure.
Many of the more importantresultsin the theoryof phonology over the past
several years have developed from a concentratedinvestigation of the struc-
ture of phonological representations.As representationshave been enriched,
so have previouslycomplex rule systems been simplified. In this paper, I have
concentratedon developmentswithin the theory of autosegmentalphonology.
Otherimportantbodies of researchsuch as dependencyphonology (e.g. 10),
particle phonology (e.g. 34), and charm and government theory (e.g. 22)
have not been touched on. In all such work, however, importantresults can
often be directly tracedto the abandonmentof linear models of phonology in
favor of some version of nonlinear theory.

I thank Alan Bell and Larry Hyman for discussion of certain parts of this

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