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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Wondering at the Natural Fecundity of Things: Essays in Honor of Alan Prince bannerUC Santa Cruz

The Linguistics Research Center supports and facilitates research on the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of languages, particularly those that differ significantly from English in structure. It publishes a working-paper series, sponsors research colloquia, and hosts longer visits to the campus by international scholars. Founded in 1981, the center is housed in Stevenson College and fully integrated into the Department of Linguistics. Current research projects include the typology of noun phrases, the syntax and semantics of indefinites, the phonological structure of the lexicon, morphosyntactic markedness and typology in optimality theory, featural representations in optimality theory, and morphological parsing.

Cover page of Chains as Unfaithful Optima

Chains as Unfaithful Optima


Optimality Theory is a theory of the economy of constraint violation. Can this property of the theory be exploited in our understanding of economy effects in general? Can economy of structure and movement be derived without reference to economy of structure and movement? The central idea of this paper is that the choice between filling positions by movement and filling positions with independent material is determined by markedness and faithfulness constraints. There is no 'economy of movement' constraint, just economy of movement effects. Economy of movement follows from the theory of what a chain is.

Cover page of Absence of Stress Culmination and Prosodic Phrasing

Absence of Stress Culmination and Prosodic Phrasing


Current OT analyses of prosodic phrasing are unable to capture Chichewa’s prosody which under specific focus contexts appears to allow for multiple instances of prosodic culmination within a single prosodic phrase. As this paper shows, rather than providing a counter example to the universal validity of current prosodic constraints, Chichewa’s lack of culmination follows from them once Truckenbrodt’s StressXP constraint is generalized to intonational and utterance phrases. The same quest for universal validity also imposes a finer tuning of head-alignment constraints, which must become sensitive to the distinction between realized and unrealized head positions, and a weaker condition on the prosodic prominence of focus, which need only match the highest prominence available among the constituents in the focus domain rather than exceed it as currently maintained.

Cover page of Whatever Happened to the Past Tense Debate?

Whatever Happened to the Past Tense Debate?


Twenty years ago, I began a collaboration with Alan Prince that has dominated the course of my research ever since. Alan sent me a list of comments on a paper by James McClelland and David Rumelhart. Not only had Alan identified some important flaws in their model, but pinpointed the rationale for the mechanisms that linguists and cognitive scientists had always taken for granted and that McClelland and Rumelhart were challenging -- the armamentarium of lexical entries, structured representations, grammatical categories, symbol-manipulating rules, and modular organization that defined the symbol-manipulation approach to language and cognition. By pointing out the work that each of these assumptions did in explaining aspects of a single construction of language -- the English past tense -- Alan outlined a research program that could test the foundational assumptions of the dominant paradigm in cognitive science. My graduate advisor Roger Brown once decried the lack of progress in much of psychology owing to the phenomenon in which "a large quantity of frequently conflicting theory and data can become cognitively ugly and so repellent as to be swiftly deserted, its issues unresolved." I like to think that the past-tense debate, now in its third decade, is a more hopeful case, despite the impression in some observers that it has reached a stalemate. In this paper I summarize my view of the current state of the art.

Cover page of Restraint of Analysis

Restraint of Analysis


Prince & Smolensky (1993) describe a version of OT, one in which maximal harmony is achieved in small steps of gradual harmonic improvement, because a more restrained GEN is limited to making modest changes in the input one at a time.

In this chapter, I explore some of the differences between classic OT with free GEN on the one hand and persistent OT with restrained GEN on the other. We will see, as Prince and Smolensky (1993) suggest, that the single-operation and harmonic-improvement requirements do indeed have consequences that are different from those of the familiar OT model. This chapter's goal is not to decide squarely for one version of OT over the other, though elsewhere (McCarthy 2006) I argue in favor of a derivative of persistent OT called OT-CC (for OT with candidate chains).

Cover page of Neutral Vowels in Lokaa Harmony

Neutral Vowels in Lokaa Harmony


This paper discusses the neutral vowels in Lokaa harmony, [i, u, {schwa}, a]. By neutral I mean a segment which has no harmonic counterpart. Such segments are either transparent or opaque. Lokaa harmony is important in three crucial respects. First, while it is rare to find a language which has both transparent and opaque vowels in its harmony, Lokaa does. The high vowels [i, u] are transparent to harmony; the low vowel [a] is opaque, and the status of the mid vowel schwa is indeterminate. Secondly, though Lokaa has an eight-vowel inventory the vowels [a] and schwa have not 're-paired' (Bakovic 2000, 2003). They do not alternate, as we find for example in the neighboring language Igede (Bergman 1971, Armstrong 1983), or in Wolof (Ka 1994) which has an identical vowel system. Thirdly, the historic ATR contrast found in Benue-Congo high vowels (Stewart 1971, Williamson 1973) shows up when high vowel stems take mid-vowel prefixes, though the high vowels can only be [+ATR] on the surface. That is, the ATR merger of high vowels in Lokaa is not complete.

Cover page of Indulgentia Parentum Filiorum Pernicies: Lexical Allomorphy in Latin and Japanese

Indulgentia Parentum Filiorum Pernicies: Lexical Allomorphy in Latin and Japanese


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)....

Cover page of Elsewhere Effects in Optimality Theory

Elsewhere Effects in Optimality Theory


My goal in this paper is to demonstrate how the basic logic of constraint ranking in Optimality Theory (OT; Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004) directly predicts the disjunctive application of processes in an 'elsewhere' relationship without the need for a separate principle like the Elsewhere Condition (the EC; Anderson 1969, 1974, Kiparsky 1973) and its attendant problems of formulation in the theory of ordered string-rewriting rules (SPE; Chomsky & Halle 1968). The various details of the empirically correct ormulation of the EC (Halle 1995, Halle & Idsardi 1997) that must be independently stipulated in SPE all fall out as a necessary consequence of constraint ranking logic in OT.

Cover page of Towards a Uniform Account of Prominence-Sensitive Stress

Towards a Uniform Account of Prominence-Sensitive Stress


Although various phenomena are often included under the general heading of prominence-sensitive stress, weight sensitivity and sonority sensitivity are the canonical examples. In weight-sensitive systems, stress is attracted to syllables with a greater number of moras at the expense of syllables with a lesser number. In sonority-sensitive systems, stress is attracted to syllables containing vowels of greater sonority at the expense of syllables containing vowels of lesser sonority. In this article, I will first develop an analysis of weight sensitivity, and then I will extend the analysis to sonority sensitivity. The aim is to provide a general and uniform account of both phenomena.