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Title:Ternary Rhythm in Alignment Theory
Authors:Rene Kager
Abstract:The OT analysis of binary rhythmic alternation (McCarthy & Prince 1993) involves the domination of ALL-FT "all feet must stand at some PrWd edge" by PARSE-SYLL "all syllables must be parsed by feet". The paper extends this analysis to ternary rhythm, focussing on the complex stress pattern of Estonian. Estonian has variable binary/ternary rhythm, partly governed by word length and a three-way distinction of syllable weight. Variability of rhythmic intervals has consequences for the form and functioning of constraints w.r.t syllable parsing and alignment. I will show that variability can be captured by an equal ranking of ALL-FT and 'non-adjacency' constraints.

A major issue in the analysis of ternary rhythm, that of foot size (ternary as in Prince 1980, Dresher and Lahiri 1991 or binary as in Hayes forthcoming), is placed in a new perspective by OT. Binary foot theory maintains a maximally restrictive foot inventory. It requires a constraint *FTFT for ternary rhythm: "feet are not adjacent". Non-adjacency of feet has consequences for both PARSE-SYLL and ALL-FT. I argue for a constraint PARSE-2: "sequences of stress units (syllables, moras) are parsed by feet". PARSE-2 may actually replace PARSE-SYLL in rhythmic stress languages in general, but this requires that ALL-FT evaluates distances to edges for individual feet rather than for all feet simultaneously.
In ternary foot theory, foot size is the variable factor. This theory offers a restrictive view of syllable parsing, and rationalizes non-adjacency of heads as clash avoidance (resolution, Dresher and Lahiri 1992). However, it requires additional foot-form constraints.

I show that OT solves problems inherent to earlier rule-based analyses (Prince 1980, Hayes forthcoming), in particular that of re-parsing rules which define foot well- formedness targets that are formally unrelated to those of primary foot parsing. OT improves by presenting a unified account. The paper winds up with an analysis of Cayuvava ternary rhythm under both binary and ternary foot theory, showing the generalizability of the OT theory of ternarity developed for Estonian.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1