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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.57, No.6, 1043 ~ 1066, 2011
I-Umlaut in Old English: A Weak Trigger Effect
An Nah Moon
This study investigates i-umlaut which occurred in the period of pre Old English (OE) in two aspects: what motivates i-umlaut in OE and how the phenomenon can be analyzed within the framework of OT. Unlike root-controlled vowel harmony, i-umlaut in OE is triggered by the suffixal i or j in the unstressed syllable whereby a stressed root vowel becomes fronted or raised. In this study, it is proposed that i-umlaut in OE is driven by the weak trigger i or j to improve its poor perception: I-umlaut improves the poor perceptibility of the weak trigger by extending its feature-either [-back] or [-low]-onto the vowel in the stressed syllable. This study provides an OT-theoretic analysis utilizing the licensing account to vowel harmony proposed by Walker (2004, 2005). The licensing constraints, IDENT-IO(F) and the locally conjoined constraints are proposed and their interaction correctly captures the pattern of i-umlaut in OE. Also, it is shown that the licensing account proposed in this paper is superior to the previous analyses as well as the nonlicensing approaches in that it can provide a perceptual motivation couched in i-umlaut in OE.
Key Words
i-umlaut, Old English, weak trigger, Licensing constraint, optimality theory,영미문학, 문화연구, 비교문학, 비평이론, English and American Literature, cultural studies, comparative literature, critical theory
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