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Title:Decomposing FootForm: Primitive constraints in OT
Authors:Jason Eisner
Comment:29 pp. Proceedings of SCIL VIII, to appear in MITWPL. (29 May 1997)
Abstract: FootForm Decomposed: Using primitive constraints in OT

Jason Eisner - University of Pennsylvania


May 29, 1997

Proceedings of SCIL VII, New York University, April 1996

(to be published by MIT Working Papers in Linguistics).

Hayes (1995) gives a typology of the world's metrical stress systems,

which is marked by several striking asymmetries (parametric

gaps). Most work on metrical stress within Optimality Theory (OT) has

adopted this typology without explaining the gaps. Moreover, the OT

versions use uncomfortably non-local constraints (Align, FootForm,


This paper presents a rather different and in some ways more

explanatory typology of stress, couched in the restrictive framework

of primitive Optimality Theory (OTP), which allows only primitive,

radically local constraints. For example, Generalized Alignment is not

allowed. The paper presents a single, coherent system of rerankable

constraints that yields the basic facts about iambic and trochaic foot

form, iambic lengthening, quantity sensitivity, unbounded feet, simple

word-initial and word-final stress, directionality of footing,

syllable (and foot) extrametricality, degenerate feet, and word-level


The metrical part of the account rests on the following intuitions:

(a) iambs are special because syllable structure allows them to

lengthen their strong ends;

(b) directionality of footing is really the result of local lapse


(c) any lapses are forced by a (localist) generalization of right


(d) degenerate feet are absolutely banned, but primary stress does not

require a foot in all languages.

An interesting prediction of (b) and (c) is that left-to-right

trochees should be incompatible with extrametricality. This prediction

is robustly confirmed in Hayes.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1