The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Harvard Phonology Talk 2/14 - Matthew Wolf

Speaker: Matthew Wolf (Yale)
Title: Candidate Chains, unfaithful spell-out, and outwards-looking phonologically conditioned allomorphy
Time: Monday, February 14, 5:00pm
Location: Boylston Hall 335 (third floor)

If the phonological realization of morphemes proceeds serially, and in an cyclic, inside-out manner, it is predicted that the choice of allomorphs for some morpheme M cannot be ‘outwards looking’: it cannot be sensitive the phonological shape of morphemes that are structurally external to M, since these will not be phonologically realized until later in the derivation. By contrast, if the computation of allomorph choice proceeds in parallel for whole words (or utterances), outwards-looking suppletion should always be possible. The problem addressed in this talk is that outwardslooking phonologically conditioned suppletion is clearly not as freely available as a purely parallel approach would lead us to expect, but neither is it totally unattested, as a purely serial approach would predict.

In this talk I propose that the right balance between serialism and parallelism can be struck by using an OT with Candidate Chains grammar (McCarthy 2007) as the environment in which allomorphic choices are made. Specifically, I explore the idea that the potential for outwardslooking phonologically conditioned allomorphy is restricted to cases where the competing allomorphs differ as to which (if any) faithfulness constraints on morpheme/morph similarity they violate. This revision of certain assumptions made in Wolf (2008) would bring the treatment of morphological operations in OT-CC nearer to the way the phonological operations are treated, and it arguably does allow outwards-looking phonologically-conditioned allomorphy just in those cases where it is indeed attested. Examples from Western Armenian (Vaux 2003) and Tzotzil (Aissen 1987; Woolford to appear) are used to motivate the proposal.

Upcoming phonology talks at Harvard:
2/24: Karen Jesney (UMass Amherst)
2/28: Gillian Gallagher (NYU)