A typology of vowel-vowel and consonant-vowel-consonant phenomena in the dialectal variants of Western Crete and their use in education

Marina Tzakosta


In this paper, we investigate the realization of Greek vowels drawing on dialectal and developmental child language data. We focus on V(owel)-V(owel) and C(onsonant)-V(owel)-C(onsonant) phenomena. We have been especially interested in vowel harmony which is not a process frequently applying in standard Greek. Our account will be the product of the study and processing of (a) longitudinal developmental data from two children who acquire Greek as a mother language (age range 1;05-3;00), (b) samples of free speech, (c) data stemming from a structured picture naming task, and (d) indexed dialectal data (Tzakosta 2010, Tzakosta & Karra 2011). The data underline the fact VH is determined by certain phonological principles, such as the position of the vowels in the word, i.e. whether they are located in word initial, medial or final position, or whether they belong to stressed or unstressed syllables. VH appears across the board during certain developmental stages, while statistically, stress seems to be the major cue for VH, followed by directionality. Only in later stages does sonority/markedness affect the shape of the harmonized forms. We assume that Greek children use VH as a strategy which facilitates phonological acquisition as well as the order of vowel acquisition. We also assume that VH emerges in the speech of children who acquire complex linguistic systems, like Greek and Hebrew, in which phonology and morphology both affect the shape of the emergent forms. Inter-language VH patterns are governed by morphophonological properties of the target language while inter-child VH patterns are determined by developmental paths followed by the language learners. The dynamic nature of VH also drives V-C-V interactions where consonants are harmonized to certain vocalic features.

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