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Title:Assimilation to the Unmarked
Authors:Eric Bakovic
Comment:Appeared in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 6.1, 1999.
Abstract:In this paper I explain how an apparent problem arises when one considers input forms with uneven ratios of the values of an assimilatory feature. If the usual positional considerations of assimilation are irrelevant, then an effect dubbed 'majority rule' emerges. Majority rule is a pathological consequence of the vertical symmetry of input-output faithfulness whereby an arbitrarily better- represented feature value overrules the other value, resulting in assimilation of the latter to the former rather than vice-versa. I propose to circumvent the majority rule effect by invoking the local conjunction of co-relevant markedness and faithfulness constraints. A local conjunction of this type is asymmetrically violated by a mapping from an unmarked feature value to a marked one, and is universally ranked above its conjuncts -- its faithfulness conjunct in particular -- thereby heading off the apparent problem induced by the symmetry of faithfulness. This solution yields the successful description of an attested pattern, assimilation to the unmarked, which is furthermore claimed to correspond to the pattern of dominant-recessive vowel harmony.
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Phonology,Formal Analysis
Article:Version 1