The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 11/25 - Laura McPherson (Dartmouth)

Speaker: Laura McPherson (Dartmouth)
Title: Anti-alignment, melodies, and the OCP in Poko tone
Time: Monday, November 25th, 5pm – 6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

Abstract: Poko (Skou, PNG) lexical tone melodies are built off of three contrastive tone levels (L, M, H) in addition to ∅. Melodies consist of 0-2 tones, which may be either associated or floating. A puzzling aspect of Poko tone is the lack of level L or H melodies, despite the presence of M, LM, MH, and LH. In the first half of this talk, I show that the distribution of tones in lexical melodies is accounted for with anti-alignment constraints, banning initial H and final L, with exceptional faithfulness to the underlying association of H tones (i.e. tones cannot associate automatically). Accounting for both associated and floating tones necessitates two domains of anti-alignment: the stem and the tone melody. The second half of the talk addresses challenges in postlexical tone, including the association (or non-association) of floating tones, the realization of toneless stems, and the simplification of rising tones. Both the inventory of lexical melodies and the behavior of postlexical tone point to active OCP constraints for L and H tones in Poko.