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Title:Markedness Relations and Implicational Unversals in the Typology of Onset Obstruent Clusters
Authors:Frida Morelli
Abstract:Markedness Relations and Implicational Universals

in the Typology of Onset Obstruent Clusters

Frida Morelli

University of Maryland, College Park

Complex onsets consisting of two obstruents violate the Sonority

Sequencing Principle, nevertheless a significant number of languages

allows them as part of their inventories. I show that a cross-linguis-

tic study reveals that the occurrence of the four possible obstruent

clusters (i.e. FS, SF, FF and SS - F(fricative) and S(stop)) strictly

obeys certain implicational universals. It is observed that the pre-

sence of FF implies the presence of FS, and that the presence of SS

implies SF which in turn implies FS. Based on these implications,

there are only six ways in which inventories of obstruent clusters

can be constructed, and consequently only six possible grammars.

Assuming implications as a means to determine markedness, the fol-

lowing markedness relations are established among the obstruent

clusters. FF clusters are therefore shown to be more marked than

SF clusters and SS clusters more marked than SF which in turn are

more marked than FS.

I argue that an inviolable sonority scale that assigns a higher

sonority rank to fricatives cannot account for the generalizations

which are observed in the typology. Following Clements (1990), I

assume that the two classes of sounds differ only in terms of the

feature [continuant], which is not relevant for sonority.

I propose an analysis of obstruent clusters based on Optimality Theory

(Prince and Smolensky 1993). The relative harmony (i.e. markedness)

of these clusters is formally derived by evaluating them against a set

of structural constraints. I propose two OCP constraints, one for

each value of the feature [continuant] and a constraint that disallows

a stop as first member of the cluster (*SO). Interaction of these

constraints with Faithfulness allows to construct the six different

constraint hierarchies, which account for the six different typo-

logical classes of languages. The implicational universals follow

from entailment considerations on the rankings established to admit

the relevant structures in the typological grammars.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1