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Title:A Typological Investigation of Dissimilation
Authors:Keiichiro Suzuki
Comment:1998 University of Arizona dissertation
Abstract:A Typological Investigation of Dissimilation

Keiichiro Suzuki

University of Arizona

This dissertation investigates the phenomenon of dissimilation from a

theoretical perspective, with special attention to crosslinguistic

patterns. After first arguing that the previous accounts based on the

Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP) (Leben 1973, McCarthy 1979, 1986) are

not satisfactory, I propose an alternative theory of identity avoidance,

GENERALIZED OCP (GOCP) which generalizes the applicability of the

traditional OCP to a wider range of phenomena, not just autosegmental

(i.e. featural) ones. My proposal asserts that identity avoidance

between two elements in sequence is fundamental to linguistic theory,

an idea that can be characterized by a universal constraint governing

various types of dissimilatory phenomena. This concept is implemented

within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993,

McCarthy and Prince 1993a,b), which provides the flexibility for

constraints to be both violable and rankable. Contrary to the tradi-

tional OCP based approach which is bound by various representational

properties such as feature geometry and underspecification, the proposed

approach abandons this representational dependency in favor of the

richly articulated constraint-based system.

Based on the data collected from 57 language cases, I then examine the

various factors that play a role in dissimilation, including the

elements involved, their adjacency relations, and the domain of

dissimilation. I demonstrate that the GOCP constitutes a consistent

formal apparatus on the one hand, and the versatility to accommodate

the complexity of dissimilation patterns on the other. Moreover, it is

shown that the present approach formally unifies the characterization

of both the similarity effects and blocking effects by directly

incorporating Local Conjunction as a uniform mechanism of accounting

for the Similarity effect, OCP-subsidiary feature phenomena. As a

result, these phenomena need not require novel theoretical devices for

each case, but rather are construed as instances of the combination of

multiple GOCP constraints.

[note: This dissertation was defended in March 1997, and I apologize

for being unable to incorporate papers of related topic that have

appeared since then.]
Article:Version 1