|An Optimality Account of Onset Sensitivity in QI Languages
|The stress systems of the world can roughly be divided into two groups, a quantity sensitive (QS) and a quantity insensitive (QI) one. The QS group typically has no fixed main stress position, but depends on the weight of the syllables contained in the word for the placement of main stress. The weight of the syllables is usually determined by number of segments in the nucleus and/or coda of the syllable. Onset consonants do not count. There are, however, a few languages in which the onset does seem to add weight to the syllable. Among others Western Aranda and Alyawarra (Australia) have stress systems that can be rephrased as:"of the first two syllables stress the first one that begins with a consonant". At first glance this indeed hints at onset weight, but further investigation showed that these languages can easily be reanalysed within the boundaries of standard metrical theory, hence, not referring to onset weight. A few stipulations and diachronic trics were needed, however (see Goedemans 1993). It seems that we can solve the puzzle in OT in a much more straightforward manner. A new constraint, Align-Ft Onset, will play a key role in the solution of the onset sensitivity problem, and a difference in the ranking of the constraints will account for a difference between Aranda and Alyawarra (that otherwise have a similar stress pattern) in the stressing of bisyllabic words.
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