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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2005, Vol. 36, No. 1, Pages 23-41
(doi: 10.1162/0024389052993673)
© 2005 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Palatalization/Velar Softening: What It Is and What It Tells Us about the Nature of Language
Article PDF (122.53 KB)

This study proposes an account both of the consonantal changes involved in palatalization/velar softening and of the fact that this change is encountered before front vowels. The change is a straightforward case of feature assimilation provided that segments/phonemes are viewed as complexes of features organized into the “bottle brush” model illustrated in example (4) and elsewhere in the text, and that the universal set of features includes, in addition to the familiar binary features, six unary features, which specify the designated articulator(s) for every segment (not only for consonants).