SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Altaic Morpho-Phonology

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2017/2018
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1


152900070:  Introduction to Phonology

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objective of this course is twofold. The students should have a better understanding of both phonology and of morphology and should also have gained an understanding of the different properties which characterize Altaic languages.

At the end of the course students should be familiar with different morpho-phonological properties of a range of Altaic languages (mainly Turkish, Kazak, Saxa and Mongolian). From a theoretical view point, they should understand the notions of agglutinative languages, what defines a word-domain in languages with a rich morphological system, vowel harmony and its domain of application, disharmony, syllabic structure, the notion of minimal word and regular and irregular stress.


This course is taught over 10 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

Following on from what the students have learned in their introductory phonology course, we will look at vowel harmony in depth, considering different analyses which have been proposed. We will also look at disharmonic words and the implication those words have on the claim that Altaic languages have a process of vowel harmony.

Altaic languages having an agglutinative morphological structure, we will look at different ways of identifying the word domain. To do so, the notions of minimal word, analytic and non-analytic morphology, regular stress, the scope of harmony, among many other processes, will be presented.

Method of assessment

One essay of 5,000 words to be submitted on the day 1 of the following term (100%).

Suggested reading

  • Backley, P. (1995), “A tier geometry for vowel systems”, UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 7.
  • Barker, C. (1989). “Extrametricality, the cycle and Turkish word stress”, in Phonology at Santa Cruz 1, Itô, J. & J. Runner (eds.), Santa Cruz: Linguistics Research Centre, 1-33.
  • Binnick, R. (1979). Modern Mongolian: a transformational syntax, University of Toronto Press.
  • Çakır Ç. (2000). “On non-final stress in Turkish simplex words”, Studies on Turkish and Turkic languages: Proceeding of the ninth international conference on Turkish Linguistics, Göksel, A. & C. Kerslake (eds.), Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden. 3-10.
  • Çakır Ç. (2006). On stress, types of extrametricality and the phonological structure of the extrametrical syllable in Turkish simplex words, unpublished MA dissertation, Boğazici University.
  • Charette, M. (2000). “When p-licensing fails: the final high vowels of Turkish”, SOAS Working papers in Linguistics 10. 2-18.
  • Charette, M. (2004). “Defining the structure of Turkish words”, SOAS Working papers in Linguistics 13.
  • Charette, M. (2007). “Turkish domains”, in Proceedings of the Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics, MIT Press.
  • Charette, M. & A. Göksel (1996). “Switching and vowel harmony in Turkic languages” in A Festschrift for Edmund Gussmann, KUL, Lublin. 29-56.
  • Charette, M. & A. Göksel (1998). “Licensing constraints and vowel harmony in Turkic languages”, in Structure and interpretation – studies in phonology, Cyran E. (ed.), PASE Studies and monographs, vol. 4, Lublin. 65-88.
  • Denwood, A. (1997). The role of the element I in Khalkha Mongolian phonology, PhD dissertation, SOAS.
  • Denwood, A. (1998). “A template for Turkish”, SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics and Phonetics: 8:177-190.
  • Denwood, A. (2002). “k-ø: morpho-phonology in Turkish”, SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics and Phonetics: 12:89-98.
  • Denwood, A. (2005). “A template for Turkish, full circle: templates or syllables”, (ms). 
  • Dictionary of the Turkic languages, Routledge. 1996.
  • Gaunt, J. (2004). Modern Mongolian, Curzon.
  • Göksel, A. & C. Kerslake (2005). Turkish: a comprehensive grammar, Routledge.
  • Inkelas, S. & C. O. Orgun (1995). “Level ordering and economy in the lexical phonology of Turkish”, Language 71. 763-793.
  • Inkelas, S. & C. O. Orgun (1998). “Level non-ordering in recursive morphology: evidence from Turkish”, in Morphology and its relation to phonology and syntax, Lapointe, S. G., D. K. Brentari & P. M. Farrell (eds.), Stanford: CSLI. 360-410.
  • Jong F. De (2007). A grammar of Modern Uighur, Utrecht:Houtsma.
  • Kabak, B. (2001) “Vowel disharmony in Turkish and vowel sub-systems”, ms. Delware.
  • Kabak, B. & I. Vogel. (2001). “The phonological word and stress assignment in Turkish”, Phonology 18, COU 315-360.
  • Kaisse, E. (1985). “Some theoretical consequences of stress rules in Turkish”, CLS 21:1, 199-209.
  • Kaisse, E. (1986). “Towards a lexical phonology of Turkish”, in A Festschrift for Sol Saporta (Contreras, H., & F. Newmeyer (eds.), Noit Amrofer. 231-240.
  • Kornfilt, J. (1997), Turkish, Routledge.
  • Lewis, G. (2000). Turkish Grammar (2nd edition), Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Li, B. (1996). Tungusic vowel harmony: description and analysis, Den Haag Holland Academic Graphics.
    Ploch, S. (1998) “Non-switch harmony in Yawelmani (and Turkish and Sakha), SOAS Working Papers in Liguistics 8.
  • Poechtrager, M. (2008) “An analysis of disharmonic Turkish words”, pc.
  • Poppe, N. (1964). Grammar of written Mongolian, Wiesbaden:O Harrassowittz.
  • Poppe, N. (1970). Mongolian language handbook, Washington DC.
  • Sezer, E. (1983). “On non-final stress in Turkish”, Journal of Turkish Studies 5. 61-69.
  • Turkic languages in contact, Wiesbaden Harrassowitz 2006.
  • Underhill, R. (1976). Turkish Grammar, Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press.
  • Van der Hulst, H. & J. van de Weijer. (1991). “Topics in Turkish phonology”, in Turkish linguistics today, (Boeschoten H., & L. Verhoeten (eds). 11-59.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules