Total Assimilation in Persian Phonology: A Modified Contrastive Specification Account
Keywords:Modified Contrastive Specification Theory, total assimilation, contrastive hierarchy, markedness theory
Nowadays the main stream in the most fields of linguistics including phonology is minimalism and redundancy removing, which derives from the principle of the economy of language. The advent of under specification theory in the late 19th century can be considered as the beginning of redundancy removing in the domain of phonology. During recent decades different versions of under specification such as Radical Under specification, Contrastive Specification and Modified Contrastive Specification (MCS) have been presented. Modified Contrastive Specification (MCS), which is the finding of Toronto Phonology School is based on Contrastive Hypothesis in which a contrastive hierarchy is applied to specify the contrastive features. It is believed that only contrastive features are specified in phonological representations and redundant values never exist in underlying representations. This paper aims to present a novel analysis of total assimilation process in terms of the manner of articulation in consonant clusters having the structures of –st and –zd in Persian which is an active process in phonology of Persian. Working within the framework of the MCS, through drawing a contrastive hierarchy for phonological features, this paper leads to this conclusion that the feature [continuant] in Persian consonants is a contrastive feature so by spreading this feature, the coronal stops /t/, /d/ assimilate to fricatives /s/ and /z/ respectively. To represent contrast and markedness in this system, we have proposed a contrastive hierarchy of [son] > [lab] > [cont]> [voiced] for consonants involved in the process of total assimilation in Persian.