S-Space Language Education Institute (언어교육원) Language Research (어학연구) Language Research (어학연구) Volume 47 Number 1/2 (2011)
Vowel Contrast and Vowel Harmony Shift in the Mongolic Languages
- Ko, Seongyeon
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 언어교육원
- 어학연구, Vol.47 No.1, pp. 23-43
- This paper explores the synchrony and diachrony of the Mongolic vowel systems within the framework of contrastive hierarchy theory (Dresher 2009). First it establishes contrastive hierarchies for modern Mongolic varieties, based on which it attempts to reconstruct an RTR-based vowel system for Old Mongolian. Then it proposes a vowel shift hypothesis which claims that the basis of vowel harmony has shifted from an RTR contrast in Old Mongolian to a palatal contrast in the modern Kalmyk/ Oirat variety (contra Svantesson 1985). It is shown that this shift not only conforms to all the basic criteria of the comparative methods in historical
linguistics, but also corresponds to typological expectations from an Altaic perspective. The result supports the idea that RTR was the original harmonic contrast in Altaic (Vaux 2009).