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Title:Geminates, the OCP and the Nature of CON
Authors:Edward Keer
Comment:Rutgers University dissertation, 1999
Abstract:Geminates, The OCP and The Nature of CON

Edward W. Keer

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

This dissertation is concerned with the Obligatory Contour Principle

(OCP) and its relationship to the representation of geminate consonants.

The OCP blocks lexical forms with pair geminates, a pair of adjacent

identical melodies. Therefore geminates must be represented as single

melodies associated to two timing units. The OCP is also active on

outputs, blocking phonology from creating pair geminates. The dual

nature of the OCP (as both input and output constraint) is derived from

the interaction of ranked and violable output constraints in an

Optimality-theoretic grammar. In this analysis, no input restrictions

are required.

The OCP is interpreted as a constraint on the set of constraints in UG

(CON). The lexical OCP is accounted for by positing that no faithfulness

constraint requires maintaining a distinction between one segment and

two identical adjacent segments. The output OCP is accounted for by

positing that output markedness constraints universally prefer one

segment to two. The interaction of these markedness and faithfulness

constraints neutralizes the contrast between pair and single geminates.

One consequence of the analysis is that no specific OCP constraint is

required. Rather, the effects of the OCP follow from general markedness


Geminates behave differently with respect to phonological changes

compared to their singleton counterparts. Geminates are sometimes

affected by changes that affect singletons (alterability). Examples of

geminate alterability are found in Faroese, Persian, Fula, and Alabama.

The fission of geminates appears to be a counter example to the claim

that markedness universally prefers one segment to two. It is shown

that fission follows from the activity of faithfulness constraints

relativized to the syllable onset. The analysis of fission captures an

asymmetry in fission processes. No fission process creates a cluster

where the initial segment is more faithful to the input than second


In addition to alterability, geminates are sometimes unaffected by

changes that affect singletons (inalterability). Examples of geminate

inalterability include Tiberian Hebrew, Latin, and the restriction of

coda consonants in many languages. Universal inalterability must be an

effect of the constraint responsible for the change in singletons.

Parochial inalterability however, is the result of standard constraint

interaction in an OT grammar.
Article:Version 1