Contrast and phonological activity in the vowel system of Laurentian French

Daniel Currie Hall


The strongest version of the Activity Principle (Dresher 2015, 2016) predicts that redundant features should never be phonologically active. Laurentian French laxing harmony (Poliquin 2006), which is triggered by an allophonic property of high vowels, presents an apparent challenge to this prediction. This paper addresses that challenge, clarifying some of the theoretical questions raised by the Activity Principle and arguing that it is consistent with an account of the Laurentian French laxing pattern, provided that the binary feature [±tense] is given sufficiently wide scope in the contrastive hierarchy. The paper also suggests how the hierarchy proposed here can also contribute to accounting for dental stop assibilation (Burstynsky 1968) and vowel coalescence (St-Amand 2012). 


contrast; laxing; harmony; Laurentian French; vowels

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Copyright (c) 2016 Daniel Currie Hall