The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 5/4 - Donca Steriade (MIT)

Speaker: Donca Steriade (MIT)
Title: Uniformity in intersecting paradigms: evidence from A. Greek accent
Time: Monday, May 4th, 5pm – 6:30pm

Abstract: I analyze paradigm uniformity effects that affect accent placement in Ancient Greek nominals. Some of the generalizations have been known since Herodian, in the 2nd cent. AD. What may be new is that a general correspondence system, governing all nouns, adjectives and participles, underlies the known uniformity cases, and others.

The Greek system is interesting because it combines aspects of cyclic inheritance (Base Priority effects, in the sense of Benua 1997) with properties sometimes considered incompatible with cyclicity: the Greek Bases are not contained in their Derivatives; each Derivative has multiple competing Bases, as well as a non-Base input; and uniformity competes with paradigmatic distinctness constraints (Kenstowicz 2005, Löfstedt 2010).

There are three important mechanisms in the analysis. A paradigm is a set of lexically related forms sharing one or more syntactic features. Paradigm uniformity stems from the requirement that such a set of forms must have correspondent stems, in a phonological sense. Such correspondence requirements may compete, because paradigms overlap, and their conflict is resolved by ranking. Base Priority arises when faithfulness to the unmarked realization of one form in the set (a notion to be defined) outranks faithfulness to the unmarked realization of other forms in the set.

How the Base of a paradigm is selected remains a mystery, but see Albright (2002, 2011).