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Title:Constraint Interaction and Brazilian Portuguese Glide Distribution
Authors:James P. Giangola
Abstract:Constraint Interaction and Brazilian Portuguese Glide Distribution

James P. Giangola

Sensory, Inc.

Glide distribution is a traditional problem for syllable,

prosodic, metrical, and feature geometry theory. Brazilian

Portuguese [BP] presents a particularly complex set of facts

in these areas. The apparent unpredictability of glides may

suggest that [y] and [w] must be phonemes (e.g. Barbosa 1965,

Leite 1974, Mateus 1975). A phonemic analysis is based on

the surface co-occurrence of [iw], [yu], and [i.u], as well

as [uy], [wi], and [u.i]. However, BP glides are indeed

predictable once one considers certain prosodic, metrical,

and morphological tendencies to be found across languages.

Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993) maintains that

the grammar is constructed of a set of ranked and violable

constraints, rather than derivational or generative 'rules'.

Since BP glide distribution can be explained solely in terms

of general, cross-linguistically motivated constraints, an OT

approach is relatively cost-free. In contrast, a traditional

rule-based analysis must stipulate desyllabification rules

which explicitly target high and mid vowels at various

derivational levels.

In this paper, I show that the sequence VG (vowel plus off-

glide) is distributionally less restricted than GV (onglide

plus vowel) or V.V (vowels in hiatus). The more restricted

forms, GV and V.V, obtain in prosodic, metrical, and morpho-

logical environments in which VG is disallowed. In an OT

framework, the analysis takes on the following form: When

input /VV/ corresponds to output VG, there are no constraint

violations, while outputs GV and V.V violate more highly

ranked Parse-mora and Onset, respectively. However, GV and

V.V are optimal in those environments in which VG violates

certain constraints ranked more highly than Parse-mora and

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1