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Title:Switch Languages: Theoretical Consequence and Empirical Reality
Authors: Paula Houghton
Abstract:The term switch language refers to a language which uses both iambs and trochees productively. Switch languages are often assumed not to exist, since the surface stress pattern is not distinct from a non-switch language. This dissertation argues that switch languages are both an empirical reality and an entailed theoretical consequence of Optimality Theory.

Empirical reality:
Yidiny and Wargamay are two switch languages with independent evidence for their switch footing; crucially, each has a regular process of lengthening stressed vowels when the feet are iambic but not when they are trochaic. In support of this claim, the dissertation also argues that this kind of vowel lengthening never occurs in trochaic languages. Trochaic languages which have been previously claimed to have regular lengthening of stressed vowels, such as Mohawk and Chimalapa Zoque, are shown to actually lengthen vowels for word or foot minimality.

Theoretical consequence:
The presence of alignment, rhythm, and parsing constraints in Con entails the existence of switch languages. As long as there is some constraint that cares whether there is a foot at the beginning of the word or not, this constraint -- along with a rhythm constraint and a parsing constraint -- is sufficient for the typology to include switch languages. Various alternate definitions of alignment constraints are explored in the dissertation, but the conclusion is that any true alignment constraint predicts the existence of a switch language.

This dissertation illustrates the connection between a theoretical consequence of OT and an attested phenomenon in Yidiny and Wargamay. Switch languages are an entailed consequence of Optimality Theory whenever the constraint set includes alignment, rhythm, and parsing constraints; Yidiny and Wargamay are just such languages, as confirmed by independent evidence including vowel lengthening. Because parallel OT optimizes over complete forms instead of making extremely local decisions, global patterns like lapselessness are rewarded, leading to word-level footing decisions. Many theories of prosody include these essential components; OT compels them to interact in the right way.
Area/Keywords:phonology, stress, alignment, feet, Yidiny, Wargamay
Article:Version 1