15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

On Neutral Vowels in Hungarian

Adamantios Gafos, Stefan Benus

New York University, USA

Neutral vowels are vowels that may intervene between the trigger and target of a harmony pattern even when they bear the opposite value for the harmonizing feature. Despite the significant body of work on and the crucial role of vowel harmony in phonological theory, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to the low-level phonetic properties of neutral vowels. We examine a prototypical example of neutrality from Hungarian vowel harmony by comparing tongue dorsum location for the phonemically invariant neutral vowels like [i] in different harmonic contexts - a back context where the neutral vowel appears between two back vowels, and a front context where the neutral vowel appears between two front vowels. Observed differences in tongue dorsum location are linked to independent results on the quantal relation between articulation and sound and may provide a phonetic basis for the phenomenon of neutrality in vowel harmony.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Gafos, Adamantios / Benus, Stefan (2003): "On neutral vowels in Hungarian", In ICPhS-15, 77-80.