|Title:||Distinctiveness, Coercion and Sonority: A Unified Theory of Weight|
|Comment:||These documents use Symbol, SILDoulosIPA and Monotype Sorts fonts|
|Abstract:||Distinctiveness, Coercion and Sonority: A Unified Theory of Weight
University of Maryland, College Park
Cross-linguistically, phonological weight systems can be quite complex.
There are many factors to take into account when describing and
explaining weight patterns, including:
1) segment type (consonant or vowel),
3) weight distinctiveness,
4) prosodic weight requirements, and
5) phonological environment (including syllable position).
The interaction of these factors can sometimes obscure relationships
among them, thus leading to several separate approaches to account
for different pieces of the weight puzzle. For example, distinctive
vowel length and distinctive consonant gemination are often seen as
different phenomena to be accounted for in different ways. Similarly,
vowel lengthening and weight by position are seen as almost completely
unrelated. However, a thorough inspection of data from a large number
of languages leads to the conclusion that a unified theory and
mechanism of moraicity across segment types (i.e. both consonants and
vowels) is warranted. This work provides such a unified theory.
The two main goals of this dissertation are:
1) to examine and review the nature and patterns of segment weight,
including: inventories, processes, and dependencies; and
2) to provide a simple and economical account for the observed
descriptive generalizations within the framework of Optimality Theory
(OT) and Moraic Theory.
In addition, it becomes clear throughout this work that one major
advantage of OT over traditional rule-based theories is the
typological predictions intrinsic to the architecture. Since OT
constraints are universal, violable and re-rankable, their factorial
ranking potentially yields all possible grammars. In the case of
segmental weight, the factorial ranking of three simple constraint
families yields the major descriptive generalizations found
Chapter 1 reviews evidence for different degrees of weight,
presents the syllable representations assumed throughout this work,
and demonstrates that there are two sources of weight - coerced and
distinctive. Coerced weight is a restriction on surface moraicity in
some phonological context (e.g. weight by position and foot binarity),
and is subject to distributional restrictions based on sonority. In
contrast, distinctive weight is an underlying moraicity reflected in
a surface contrast (e.g. geminate versus non-geminate intervocalic
consonants), and is not bounded by sonority. Both sources of weight
are observed to be relevant to both vowels and consonants.
Chapter 2 briefly reviews Optimality Theory and Correspondence
Theory, discusses the relationship between OT and typology, and
presents the factorial rankings (permutations) of three types of
1) General moraic markedness constraints against moraic segments of
different types - ranked in a universal hierarchy based on sonority;
2) Coercive moraic markedness constraints; and
3) Faithfulness constraints on underlying moraic affiliation with
segments of different sonorities.
Chapter 3 uses data from a number of languages to show that
the descriptive generalizations discussed in chapter 1 emerge
naturally as the result of interactions among the constraints
formalized in chapter 2.
Chapter 4 expands on chapter 3, and provides in-depth case
studies of segment moraicity and other phenomena in Hawaiian, Modern
Standard Italian, Kashmiri, two Hungarian dialects, two Icelandic
dialects, and Metropolitan New York English. This chapter gives
detailed descriptions of different weight patterns; reveals that the
constraints proposed in this work can be integrated into more complete
grammars, and shows that different dialects can arise from a minimal
re-ranking of constraints.
Chapter 5 is a repository for miscellaneous issues, as well as
the general conclusions. Specifically, it provides a discussion of
why there is no need for constraints that target long vowels and/or
geminate consonants to derive inventories; it addresses the work of
Broselow, et al (1998) regarding phonetic reflections of phonological
weight; it discusses the advantages of using negative moraic
markedness constraints over positive constraints; and it shows that
Tranel's (1991) Principle of Equal Weight for Codas is the logical
result of constraint interaction.