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Vowel harmony and stem identity


Affix vowels often alternate to agree with stem vowels in a pattern dubbed root-outward harmony. I propose that root-outward harmony is subject to a condition that a stem not be phonologically altered under affixation. This analysis accounts most parsimoniously for the core empirical generalization of root-outward harmony: that stem vowels never alter-nate to agree with affix vowels even if the only alternative is for stem and affix to dis-agree. Analyses in terms of underspecification and/or directionality capture this generali-zation less readily. I formalize the proposed analysis in terms of stem-affixed form faith-fulness in Optimality Theory and compare it with likely alternatives.

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