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Title:An Optimality Theoretical analysis of the Dutch diminutive
Authors:Jeroen van de Weijer
Comment:In H. Broekhuis & P. Fikkert (eds.) Linguistics in the Netherlands 2002, 199-209. John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.
Abstract:The analysis of the diminutive in Dutch has been a topic of debate among phonologists and morphologists for almost one and a half centuries. There are at least five allomorphs in the standard language, there is a lot of variation between dialects, and there is variation between speakers for diminutives of morphologically complex and rarely used words. As a result, previous analyses have quibbled over the data, the shape of the underlying form of the morpheme and the sets of rules which would derive the surface alternants. These rules have usually been highly complex, and idiosyncratic for the diminutive, that is, the phonological rules concerned were marked for applying only in the context of the diminutive morpheme. Morpheme-specific rules are a problem in a framework such as Optimality Theory, in which constraints are assumed to be universal, i.e. not specific to particular languages and, a fortiori, not specific to particular morphemes in particular languages. Thus, the Dutch diminutive, with at least three such morphophonological rules, is an obvious challenge to the OT framework and cries out for re-analysis. In this paper, I present the outlines of an OT-style analysis of the allomorphy in the standard language, comparing this to earlier rule-based work. For the sake of concreteness, the analysis that was presented in Gussenhoven & Jacobs (1998) is compared for this matter. I will show that the language-specificness can be circumvented to a large degree in a constraint-based framework, and that, additionally, this captures a number of phonological regularities not expressed by the rule-based approach.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1