Working paper Open Access
I explore the similarities between phonological vowel harmony and phonetic vowel-to-vowel
coarticulation by examining the vowels in three dialects of Yoruba: Standard Yoruba, Moba, and Akure. While they all exhibit some degree of A TR vowel harmony, only Alane exhibits a vowel harmony in the high vowels.
I compare the acoustic characteristics of the vowel harmony in the high vowels of Akure, with the co articulatory properties in parallel environments in the non-harmonizing dialects. In Akure, the high vowel pairs exhibit a large difference in Fl between the +ATR and -ATR vowels as expected; in SY and MQba, where there is no phonological split, the high vowel pairs also exhibit a split in FI in the same direction as the contrast found in Akur~, though crucially much smaller and less distinct.
These findings support the conclusion that vowel harmony has its origins in vowel-to-vowel coarticulation.