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Indulgentia Parentum Filiorum Pernicies: Lexical Allomorphy in Latin and Japanese

  • Author(s): Ito, Junko
  • Mester, Armin
  • et al.
Abstract

Languages are replete with cases of lexical allomorphy. Their characteristic property is that the distribution of allomorphs is explicable on general phonological grounds, but no actual phonological rule exists in the grammar of the language that would derive both from the same underlying representation. In this note, we take up the two cases mentioned above, the historically matured allomorphy of the Latin noun-forming endings and the newly emerging allomorphy of the plurality marker in Japanese loanwords. From a variety of evidence characterized as 'prosodic trapping', Mester 1994 argues that the optimal foot structure of Latin is the bimoraic balanced trochee, ('LL) (two light syllables) or ('H) (one heavy syllable). Crucially, in a quantitative system, the unbalanced ('HL) and ('LH) do not qualify as trochees, and neither does ('L). In this restricted foot inventory, light syllables are often prosodically trapped initially: #L(H)..., and medially between heavy syllables: ...(H)L(H)....

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