The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 5/8 - Aleksei Nazarov (University of Toronto)

Speaker: Aleksei Nazarov (University of Toronto)
Title: Connecting opacity and exceptionality: “alphabet features” in constraints
Time: Wednesday (5/8), 5:00pm-6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

Some analyses of phonological opacity in OT maintain that opaque generalizations are encoded in the lexicon (e.g., Mielke et al. 2003, Sanders 2006), or result from language-specific constraints (Pater 2014). Developing these ideas, I propose that systematic opaque generalizations may arise from rankings of lexically indexed constraints (Kraska-Szlenk 1995, Pater 2000). This perspective has consequences for models of phonological learning, since it allows us to view both exceptionality and opacity as part of the same hidden structure learning problem.
In order to allow constraint indexation to be relevant to opacity, indexation must be binary (cf. Becker 2009) and local to particular segments (cf. Temkin-Martínez 2010, Rubach 2013, 2016, Round 2017) – ideas that had been proposed separately, but not brought together within OT, although SPE (Chomsky and Halle 1968) did originally propose local and binary indices in the form of “alphabet features” (see also Zonneveld 1978). Given such indices, different rankings of indexed markedness constraints allow for exceptionless or exceptionful opaque interactions, which will be illustrated with an analysis of Canadian Raising (Chambers 1973, Bermúdez-Otero 2003).