Loan Words in Turkish Vowel Harmony: An Optimality Theoretic Approach




Anderson, Quinn

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Turkish has two patterns for backness vowel harmony: with native stems and loanwords. Native stems use the first vowel of the word as the trigger, causing all subsequent vowels to match its value for backness. Loanwords can be disharmonic for backness within the root, and suffixes use the root-final vowel as the trigger. This research provides an account for this pattern of disharmony, demonstrating how a root faithfulness constraint in Optimality Theory, can maintain the identity of all root vowels in loanwords. Therefore, the suffix uses only the root-final vowel as its trigger. A corpus of native and loanwords in Turkish was compiled and their forms were analyzed with the same set of constraints. While native stems can be accounted for by syllable-initial identity constraints, the wrong output candidate is selected in loanwords. When a constraint on root identity is used, the correct output candidate was selected in both loanwords and native words. This supports theories that the roots of Turkish are static, with alternations only occurring within the suffixes of the language. Further research will analyze neutral vowels and other disharmonic native stems to determine if root faithfulness can account for their forms as well.



Identity, Optimality Theory, Vowel Harmony, Loan Words, Turkish