Instances of vowel assimilation in the Cretan dialect

Ioanna Kappa


This study examines the effect of vowel assimilation in the dialectal realizations of western Crete. The corpus is based on data drawn from written sources as well as naturalistic data. The analysis has shown that the assimilation is mostly sonority driven, following largely the pattern attested in southern Greece; the trigger of assimilation is the most sonorous (un)stressed vowel within the prosodic word and targets a preceding unstressed vowel, although stressed targets are also attested. The assimilation is regressive, strictly local and may be blocked by intervening Labials and Dorsals which spread their round or back feature respectively to the target vowel. Coronal sonorants may also block total assimilation causing only lowering, due to the V-C interaction too.


Cretan dialect, total vowel assimilation, blocking, V-C interaction

Full Text:



Condoravdi C. 1990. Sandhi rules of Greek and prosodic theory. In S. Inkelas & D. Zec (eds), The phonology-syntax connection. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 63-84.

Hyman, LM. 1999. The historical interpretation of vowel harmony in Bantu. In J.-M. Hombert & L.M. Hyman (eds), Bantu historical linguistics: theoretical and empirical perspectives. Stanford: CSLI, 235-295.

Kafkalas, M. 1992. [in Greek]. Μνημόνιο κρητικής διαλέκτου. Αθήνα: Κρητικά Επίκαιρα.

Krämer, M. 2003. Vowel harmony and correspondence theory. Berlin, New York: Mouton De Gruyter.

Ksanthinakis, A. 2012. [in Greek]. Λεξικό, ερμηνευτικό και ετυμολογικό του δυτικοκρητικού γλωσσικού ιδιώματος. Ηράκλειο: Πανεπιστημιακές Εκδόσεις Κρήτης.

Mahanta, S. 2007. Directionality and locality in vowel harmony. With special reference to vowel harmony in Assamese. PhD dissertation. Utrecht University, OTS.

Malikouti-Drachman A. & G. Drachman. 1992. Greek clitics and lexical phonology. In W.U. Dressler, H.C. Luschützky, O.E. Pfeifer & J.R. Rennison (eds), Phonologica 1988. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 197-206.

Μetaxaki, E. 2009. [in Greek]. Ζητήματα από τη Φωνολογία του δυτικού κρητικού ιδιώματος (περιοχή Κισσάμου-Σφακίων). Διπλωματική εργασία Α΄ Μεταπτυχιακού Κύκλου. Ρέθυμνο: Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης.

Newton, B.E. 1972. The generative interpretation of dialect. A study of Modern Greek phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Odden, D. 1994. Adjacency parameters in phonology. Language 70(2): 228-329.

Pagalos, G. 1955. [in Greek]. Περί του γλωσσικού ιδιώματος της Κρήτης (τόμος Α΄). Αθήνα.

Paster, M. 2004. Vowel height harmony and blocking in Buchan Scots. Phonology 21: 359-407.

Parkinson, F.B. 1996. The representation of vowel height in phonology. PhD dissertation, Ohio State University.

Revithiadou, A., M. van Oostendorp, K. Nikolou & M.-A. Tiliopoulou. 2006. Vowel harmony in contact-induced systems: The case of Cappadocian and Silly. In M. Janse, B.D. Joseph & A. Ralli (eds), Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Modern Greek Dialects and Linguistic Theory. Patra: University of Patras, 350-365.

Rose, S. & R. Walker. 2011. Harmony systems. In J. Goldsmith, J. Riggle & A.C.L. Yu (eds), The handbook of phonological theory (2nd edition). Oxford, Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 240-290.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Ioanna Kappa

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, unless otherwise stated.