On vowel harmony and vowel reduction

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This paper examines vowel reduction and vowel harmony in disyllabic nouns of Yukuben, Mòoré and German. Morphologically, all nouns under consideration have a stem and a number + gender marker. The order of these two morphemes, namely stem-final in Yukuben but stem-initial in Mòoré and German, seems to have little effect on the phonological processes affecting the nouns. The canonical word shapes of all three languages have frequent strengthening of first syllables (by phonological lengthening in Yukuben and Mòoré, and by vowel harmony in all three languages), and weakening of second syllables: reduction to schwa in Yukuben and German; non-final elision in Mòoré. No definite conclusion can yet be proposed as to why phonology does not reflect the differing morphology more directly.


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