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Title:The Stress Window in Piraha: A Reanalysis of Rhythm in Optimality Theory
Authors:Thomas Green
Abstract: The Stress Window in Piraha:

A Reanalysis of Rhythm in Optimality Theory



Thomas Green


MIT, January 1995

In this paper we provide an analysis of the location of main stress in

Piraha, from the perspective of Optimality Theory (OT) (Prince and

Smolensky 1993, McCarthy and Prince 1993a,b). The three-syllable

window for possible stress placement, coupled with quantity-

sensitivity and default finality have to our knowledge defied

convincing explanation within current phonological theory. We will

show that, given a recent suggestion for explaining ternary metrical

parsing in OT (the PARSE-2 constraint of Kager 1994), the solution is

rather straightforward, although it implies the existence in the

phonology of metrical peaks that are not realized in the phonetic


We then turn to take a closer look at the nature of the rather ad hoc

PARSE-2 constraint. We will argue that PARSE-2 is in fact a subpart

of a larger generalization, and that this new constraint, LAPSE,

provides the basis for all boundedness in metrical structure. That

is, binarity and ternarity are a unified phenomenon, expressed

differently depending upon the rankings of other constraints such as

PARSE. Moreover, the reanalysis of rhythm in terms of LAPSE invites

the isolation of a new separate constraint, MIN-2, formerly part of

the single constraint which yielded strictly binary constituents.

Evidence from Passamaquoddy shows that this factoring is independently

necessary, since only through this particular bifurcation can the

theory accomodate the possibility of degenerate feet in otherwise

strictly binary languages.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1