How Powerful Are Elements? An Evaluation of the Adequacy of Element Thory in Phonological Representations
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In this dissertation, I resume the discussion of privative features as a notational device in segmental representation. I argue from both theoretical and empirical perspectives that element theory is a better theory of phonological representation than the binary-feature system. First, I argue that element theory is a more constrained and thus preferable theory since, with the proposal of single-valued features and a small element inventory, it is exempted from overgeneration of natural classes and phonological processes. Next, in case studies, I weigh the element-based representations of vowel shift, vowel harmony and consonantal lenition against the feature-based representations. The result of the evaluation shows that, compared to binary approaches, element theory is better in capturing the nature of various phonological processes. It generally provides non-arbitrary representations that can mirror how the processes occur, though it also has its limit in the characterization of Pasiego height harmony and consonantal affrication as well as providing a non-arbitrary account for occurrence of certain types of lenition in particular environments.