By Andras Kornai
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In other 35 words, the BACK class is made up from Class I and Class II, and the FRONT class is made up from the rest. However, the choice of ternary alternant cannot be fully determined from the fact that a stem takes the e-alternant of quaternary suffixes: such stems generally take the e-alternant (as expected), but not always. Those stems that take the e-alternant both in ternary and quaternary suffixes are grouped together in Class III, which contains the overwhelming majority of neutral vowel stems.
Next, we should note the existence of a four-way17 alternation as shown, among others, by the following suffixes: (15) at/et/ot/¨ot ak/ek/ok/¨ok am/em/om/¨om as/es/os/¨os ‘ACC’ ‘PL’ ‘1SG POS’ ‘having’ Quaternary suffixes, though ignored in standard treatments, are in fact anything but marginal: the most frequently encountered suffixes, such as the accusative, the 1st and 2nd sg possessive, and the plural are all of this form. Nor are they restricted to inflection: the last example, as/es/os/¨os ‘having, having to do with’ is a high-frequency derivational suffix that forms adjectives from nouns.
Chord’ ‘stick’ ‘wire’ ‘belief’ ‘water’ ‘head’ ‘argument’ ‘pumpkin’ ‘skin’ ‘smoke’ ‘sin’ The pattern exemplified in (16) divides the vowels that took the I (h–gravei, or h–backi) alternant in the binary case into two groups, i, e and o¨ u¨ . These groups must be separated by the new feature U. The question is where the other vowels belong in this classification. In order to answer this question, I will invoke a ‘functionalist’ principle of maximal contrast which says that phoneme pairs that carry meaning distinctions should be maximally contrasted in form.