Long-distance vowel-consonant agreement in Harari1

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Year : 2004

This article addresses the problem of coronal palatalization in Harari (Ethiopian
Semitic) triggered by the 2nd person singular feminine non-perfective subject
suffix /-i/. The palatalization process is unusual in two respects: (a) palatalization
operates at a distance over other vowels and consonants and (b) palatalization
may optionally affect more than one coronal consonant in the same
stem, including prefixes. Although long-distance palatalization has been documented
for other languages, it has been analyzed either as a floating affix
or as consonant harmony. While Harari palatalization shares properties with
both of these phenomena, it should be analyzed as neither. Harari palatalization
targets a specific group of consonants and is modeled using a correspondence
agreement constraint rather than aligning or spreading the palatalizing
feature. This accounts for its ability to skip over intervening consonants and
vowels, including front vowels and palato-alveolar consonants.