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Title:On the Proper Characterization of 'Nonconcatenative' Languages
Authors:Adamantios Gafos
Abstract: On the Proper Characterization of 'Nonconcatenative' Languages

ROA-106 (60pp.)

nonconc.ps, --.rtf, --.wp6

Adamantios Gafos

Cognitive Science Department

The Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD 21218


Nonconcatenative languages have been claimed to employ a special type

of phonological spreading of a consonant over a vowel, which assumes a

representation that segregates vowels and consonants on different

planes. I argue that this type of spreading can and must be eliminated

from the theory, by reducing it to segmental copying as in

reduplication. Crucial to this reduction is the notion of gradient

violation of constraints in Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky

1993), and the notion of Correspondence with its particular

application to reduplicative morphology (McCarthy & Prince 1995a). The

reduction is demonstrated in detail for Temiar, one of the main

indigenous languages of Malaysia, notorious for the complexity of its

copying patterns. Extensions of the proposal to Semitic languages are

also discussed. Two main theoretical implications of this reduction

are then developed. First, the distinction between concatenative and

nonconcatenative languages need not and should not be encoded in terms

of the special phonological mechanisms of consonantal spreading over a

vowel, applying under planar segregation. Second, the locus of the

distinction is found to be, instead, in the mode of affixation

employed in nonconcatenative languages, namely, a-templatic

reduplicative affixation. This type of affixation is predicted, though

heretofore undocumented in the typology of word formation.

[This paper is a version of chapter 3 from my forthcoming Johns

Hopkins Univ. doctoral dissertation, titled "The Articulatory Basis of

Locality in Phonology". Connections of the topic of this paper with

articulatory locality are discussed in section 5.]


Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1