Vowel zero alternations in albanian and morphophonological contact
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Vowel-Zero Alternations in Albanian and Morphophonological Contact. Andrew Dombrowski. Introduction. Slavic + Geg Albanian both have vowel-zero alternations in inflection, due to independent processes of syncope.

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Introduction l.jpg
Introduction Contact

  • Slavic + Geg Albanian both have vowel-zero alternations in inflection, due to independent processes of syncope.

  • Some Geg dialects in contact with Slavic extend vowel-zero alternations to include nouns ending in –ull, -ur, -urr.

  • In some instances, the alternating vowel in Geg is shifted to match corresponding Slavic jer reflex.


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Introduction Contact

  • Goals of this paper:

    • argue that the extension of vowel-zero alternations in Geg is due to Slavic influence

    • demonstrate that this cannot be accounted for in terms of direct Slavic > Albanian grammatical transfer

    • explore ramifications of this for modeling phonological contact


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Introduction Contact

  • Outline:

    • Vowel-zero alternations in Geg

    • Vowel-zero alternations in Slavic

    • Extension of alternations in Geg

    • Analysis

    • Repercussions


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Vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • /ə/ > Ø except when conflicts with phonotactics

    • note: schwa is always unstressed

  • Can be accounted for phonologically

  • Sample and sketch account taken from Luznia e Dibrës, a central Geg dialect near Debar along Albania-Macedonia border


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Vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • Schwa deleted in Luznia e Dibrës

  • See handout; key examples below


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Vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • Schwa preservation in Luznia e Dibrës

  • See handout; key examples below


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Vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • Descriptive generalizations

    • Complex onsets are tolerated except for CRCV syllables; CNCV is permitted.

    • Rising sonority codas are not permitted.

    • Codas of two sonorants are not permitted.

  • Sketch OT account

    • Constraints: Sonority, OCP-son, *CrC, *ə

    • See handout for details


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Vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • Sketch OT account is not complete

    • Luznia e Dibrës dialect description does not have a complete lexicon; above account is consistent with the lexicon given.

  • Vowel-zero alternations in Luznia e Dibrës can be captured straightforwardly in an OT model.

    • With the exception of morphemes like për, the OT model is agnostic as to whether schwa is present in the UR.


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Vowel-zero alternations in Slavic Contact

  • Slavic vowel-zero alternations are older and much more complicated than Geg.

  • See handout for outline of standard Macedonian vowel-zero alternations.

  • Fairly representative of Slavic dialects with which Geg is in contact.

  • Much lexical variation.


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Vowel-zero alternations in Slavic Contact

  • Key examples from standard Macedonian:

  • Adjectives in –en:

    • gladen ‘hungry’ ~ gladniot ~ gladna

    • zelen ‘green’ ~ zeleniot ~ zelena

  • Nouns in -ok:

    • dobitok ‘livestock’ ~ dobici

    • početok ‘start’ ~ početoci

  • Nouns in –ol:

    • jazol ‘knot’ ~ jazli

    • sokol ‘falcon’ ~ sokoli / sokli


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Vowel-zero alternations in Slavic Contact

  • Analysis of Geg does not extend.

  • Several possible approaches (cf. study of vowel-zero alternations in Russian):

    • Abstract jer vowels with rules for deletion (Lightner 1965, Rubach 1986); requires lexical specifcation

    • Government Phonology ‘translation’ of this (Scheer 2005)

    • Treat as synchronic vowel insertion with morphological conditioning of resulting alternations (Darden 1989)

    • Treat jer vowels as morphological constituents (Chew 2000)


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Vowel-zero alternations in Slavic Contact

  • Cannot be treated in terms of ‘pure’ phonology

  • Reference must be made to the lexicon

    • Classical generative approach involves lexical specification (/dobit+ъk-ъ/ vs. /počet+ok-ъ/; /jazъl-ъ/ vs. /sokol-ъ/)

    • Alternative approaches involve morphological specification


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Extension of vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • Extension to nouns ending in (idiosyncratically) unstressed –ull, -ur, -urr

  • Patterns of behavior:

    (1) Preservation without alternation

    (2) /u/ > /ə/; introduction of alternation in paradigms

    (3) Preservation of /u/, introduction of alternation in paradigms


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Extension of vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • (1) - /u/ preserved, no alternations

    • Plava and Gucia in Montenegro, Kastrati, Hoti, Kelmendi, Peshteri in the Sandžak region of southern Serbia, and Reç-e-Dardhës e Dibrës near Debar.

    • Data from Kastrati dialect


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Extension of vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • (2) - /u/ > /ə/; introduction of alternation in paradigms

    • Hasi, Qyteza e Kaçanikut, Shala e Bajgorës, Gjakova, Tuhini i Kërçovës, Morava e Epërme, Vila-e-Kalisit të Lumës.

    • Data from Hasi dialect


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Extension of vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • (3) - /u/ preserved, introduction of alternation in paradigms

    • Mirdita, in Gryka e Madhe e Dibrës, Ana e Malit, the Debar city dialect, Luznia e Dibrës, Karadak, and Puka

    • Data from Puka dialect


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Extension of vowel-zero alternations in Geg Contact

  • Fourth pattern: in Opoja, /u/ > /o/ in these nouns, mirroring jer reflexes in neighboring Gora.


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Opoja Contact

  • Actually, in Opoja, [ə]>[o]…

  • Nominal declension:


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Opoja Contact

  • Adjectival declension compared to general Geg:


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Opoja Contact

  • Changes in adjectival declension compared to other Geg dialects:

    • (1) /o/ corresponding to /u/

      • Possible intermediate stage: /u/ > /ə/ > /o/, but this implies intermediate forms like *i terën, which are not attested

    • (2) generalization of feminine ending –e

  • Result: similar to template in Macedonian


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Opoja Contact

  • Adjectival declension in Opoja compared to Macedonian


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Analysis Contact

  • Degree of isomorphism between Opoja and neighboring Slavic strongly suggests contact-driven explanation

  • On u > ə dialects:

    • All in Kosovo or vicinity (Hasi is between Kukës and Kosovo; Vila-e-Kalisit të Lumës is in vicinity of Kukës, but economic ties have historically been with Kosovo)

    • This correlates strongly with Slavic dialects where ъ, ь > ə, suggesting that this pattern is structurally very similar to Opoja


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Analysis Contact

  • On dialects with preserved /u/ and innovated alternations:

    • Geographical position: on periphery of /u/ > /ə/ zones, ranging from Montenegro in the NW (Ana e Malit) to Debar in the south to Karadaku in the E.

    • Suggests that this is not under Slavic influence, but instead is diffusion within Albanian


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Analysis Contact

  • Stages:

    • (1) Albanian dialects in and around southern Kosovo shift /u/ in endings –ull, -ur, -urr to ə under influence from neighboring Prizren-Timok dialects of Serbian where jers> ə.

    • (2) Opoja developments (can be seen as subset of stage (1) with subsequent shift due to neighboring Gora, except for participles).

    • (3) Spread of vowel-zero alternations to neighboring dialects without /u/ > /ə/ shift


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Analysis Contact

  • Things to account for…

    • (1) equation of (one) Slavic alternating vowel with Albanian alternating vowel.

      • Opoja is clearest example of this as an overt change, but is arguably implicit in u > ə dialects.

    • (2) extension of alternations to nouns ending in –ull, -ur, -urr.

    • (3) subsequent spread of alternations in neighboring Albanian dialects without u > ə shift


Analysis27 l.jpg
Analysis Contact

  • Can (1) and (2) be analyzed as direct borrowing of Slavic grammar by Albanian?

    • (1): probably not. If Slavic alternating vowels are underlying, specification of quality is nowhere in the grammar.

    • (2): also probably not. Slavic vowel-zero alternations involve lexical specification, and the relevant lexemes + morphemes are not borrowed.


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Analysis Contact

  • Suggestion:

    • Some reorganization seems to be happening at an intermediate interface stage between the two languages

      • An interlanguage? Similar on first glance, but an interlanguage analysis might make overly strong claims re: sociolinguistic particulars. Also, this would only account for reanalysis of Slavic, not its impact in Albanian.

    • Interface-based approach might be an interesting prism to look at questions structural compatibility in borrowing.


Analysis29 l.jpg
Analysis Contact

  • Sample implementation 1: the Opoja shift (ə > o)

    stage A: <o~Ø>[+Slavic], <ə~Ø>[+Albanian]

    change: <o~Ø>[+Slavic]  [+Albanian]

    stage B: <o~Ø>[+Slavic, +Albanian]

  • Elements in stage A reflect generalizations made by speakers of Albanian, and elements in [brackets] are metadata.

  • Key point: a generalization <G>[+Slavic] does not have to actually be completely true of Slavic; it should be deducible from the Slavic evidence but can be a reanalysis.


Analysis30 l.jpg
Analysis Contact

  • Sample implementation 2: spread of alternations without u > ə between dialects D1 and D2

    • possibility (a): reanalysis of D1

      stage A: <[-ull, -ur, -urr][-alternations]>[+D1]

      <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+alternations]>[+D2]

      change: <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+alternations]>[+D2]  [+D1]

      stage B: <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+alternations]>[+D1, +D2]

    • In this analysis, D1 speakers reanalyze D2 such that the only salient feature of D2 is the presence of alternations in the marked nouns.


Analysis31 l.jpg
Analysis Contact

  • Sample implementation 2: spread of alternations without u > ə between dialects D1 and D2

    • possibility (b): partial implementation

      stage A: <[-ull, -ur, -urr][-alternations]>[+D1]

      <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+alternations]>[+D2]

      <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+ u > ə]>[+D2]

      change: <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+alternations]>[+D2]  [+D1]

      stage B: <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+alternations]>[+D1, +D2]

      <[-ull, -ur, -urr][+ u > ə]>[+D2]

    • D1 only partially reassign tags from D2


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Analysis Contact

  • The distinction made in sample implementation 2 between reanalysis and partial implementation of shift might be useful in other instances.

  • How to characterize the mechanism of tag reassignment, and what constraints might be involved?

  • Can the concept of grammatical interface be productively applied to other situations?


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