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Abstractness and Motivation in Phonological Theory

  • Author(s): Baković, Eric
  • et al.

AbstractIn this piece I adopt the standard textbook definition of abstractness in generative phonological theory, “the degree to which a UR [= underlying representation] of a morpheme may deviate from its associated PRs [= phonetic representations]” (Kenstowicz & Kisseberth 1979, p.179). I also adopt the perspective that a phonological analysis, independently of its degree of abstractness, is (only) as adequate as the motivation and evidence that can be produced in favor of it and against substantive alternatives. This is the focus of my remarks in this piece, featuring a thorough critique of the motivation and evidence for the abstract geminate rhotic representation of the intervocalic trill in Spanish (Harris 1969, 1983, 2001, 2002).

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