Distinguishing total and partial identity: Evidence from Chol

Gillian Gallagher, Jessica Coon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper argues that long-distance assimilations between consonants come in two varieties: Total identity, which arises via a non-local relation between the interacting segments; and partial identity, which results from local articulatory spreading through intervening segments (Flemming 1995; Gafos 1999). Our proposal differs from previous analyses (Hansson 2001; Rose and Walker 2004) in that only total identity is a non-local phenomenon. While non-adjacent consonants may interact via a relation we call linking, the only requirement which may be placed on linked consonants is total identity. All single feature identities are the result of local spreading. The interaction of a total identity requirement on ejectives and stridents with anteriority harmony in Chol (Mayan) highlights the distinction between these two types of long-distance phenomena. We show that theories that allow non-local, single-feature agreement make undesirable predictions, and that the more restrictive typology predicted by our framework is supported by the vast majority of long-distance assimilation cases.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)545-582
    Number of pages38
    JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2009


    • Co-occurrence restrictions
    • Consonant harmony
    • Long-distance agreement
    • Mayan

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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