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Författare: Macarena Carmona Palacios.
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. The term vowel harmony is used in two different senses. In the first sense, it refers to any type of long distance assimilatory process of vowels, either progressive or regressive. When used in this sense, the term vowel harmony is synonymous with the term metaphony. For regressive harmony, the term umlaut is used. In this sense, metaphony is the general term while vowel harmony and umlaut are both sub-types of metaphony. The term umlaut is also used in a different sense to refer to a type of vowel gradation.
In other words, harmony refers to the assimilation of sounds that are not adjacent to each other. For example, a vowel at the beginning of a word can trigger assimilation in a vowel at the end of a word. In many languages, vowels can be said to belong to particular sets or classes, such as back vowels or rounded vowels. Some languages have more than one system of harmony. For instance, Altaic languages are proposed to have a rounding harmony superimposed over a backness harmony. Neutral vowels may be opaque and block harmonic processes or they may be transparent and not affect them. Intervening consonants are also often transparent.
Finally, languages that do have vowel harmony often allow for lexical disharmony, or words with mixed sets of vowels even when an opaque neutral vowel is not involved. There are three classes of vowels in Korean: positive, negative, and neutral. Mongolian exhibits both a pharyngeal harmony and a rounding harmony. Turkic languages inherit their systems of vowel harmony from Proto-Turkic, which already had a fully developed system. The vowel é is found only in loanwords.
Other vowels also could be found in loanwords, but they are seen as Back vowels. Tatar language also has a rounding harmony, but it is not represented in writing. O and ö could be written only in the first syllable, but vowels they mark could be pronounced in the place where ı and e are written. Turkish has a 2-dimensional vowel harmony system, where vowels are characterised by two features: and . There are two sets of vocal harmony systems: a simple one and a complex one.
Vowel harmony states that words may not contain both front and back vowels. Therefore, most grammatical suffixes come in front and back forms, e. Türkiye’de „in Turkey“ but Almanya’da „in Germany“. In addition, there is a secondary rule that i and ı in suffixes tend to become ü and u respectively after rounded vowels, so certain suffixes have additional forms.
This gives constructions such as Türkiye’dir „it is Turkey“, kapıdır „it is the door“, but gündür „it is day“, paltodur „it is the coat“. Not all suffixes obey vowel harmony perfectly. However, in the phonology, it fronts a preceding back vowel ı, thus creating a violation of the harmony. Most Turkish words do not only have vowel harmony for suffixes, but also internally. In some loanwords the final vowel is an a, o or u and thus looks like a back vowel, but is phonetically actually a front vowel, and governs vowel harmony accordingly. An example is the word saat, meaning „hour“ or „clock“, a loanword from Arabic. Many, though not all, Uralic languages show vowel harmony between front and back vowels.