Cf. le site de l'Atelier de phonologie.
N. Faust (SFL): "You may emerge, but on my terms!" said UG to the epenthetic vowel
Much of the phonology of Modern Hebrew (MH) emerged out of the phonologies of the native languages of the dominant group of founding speakers, the Ashkenazi jews of eastern Europe. For this reason, it is especially interesting to examine aspects of MH phonology that do notreplicate patterns in those languages. One such aspect is the quality of its epenthetic vowel, [e]. This quality is surprising for two, related reasons. First, epenthetic [e] seems to be rare among the world’s languages (Hall 2006, Lombardi 2002). Second, and more importantly for the present purpose, it is not the epenthetic vowel of Yiddish or Russian. I claim that [e] is motivated by the interaction between the universal principles that govern the choice of epenthetic vowels and the specific morphology of Modern Hebrew. Specifically, among the three lexical vowels that alternate with zero, /e/ is the one that does so in the most contexts. I will present the proposal in Faust & Smolensky (2017), according to which an alternating vowel is lexicalized with an activity level that is inferior to that of a non-alternating vowel. Within gradient harmonic grammar (Smolensky & Goldrick 2016), syncopating an alternating vowel is thus less of a violation of Max than syncopating a non-alternating vowel like /i/. Given this manner of lexicalizing weakness, the choice of the quality /e/ for the epenthetic vowel follows from the OT notion of epenthesis as a violation of an output’s dependence on the input: /e/ is selected because it least violates Dep. To generalize from MH, given (i) a language with V-zero alternations in lexical vowels, (ii) the absence of a designated, non-lexical epenthetic quality, and (iii) the universal principles of phonology, the quality of epenthesis is predictable. I will therefore be making the claim that the quality of epenthesis is both universally determined and emergent. It emerges from the data according to universal principles.