|Title:||Virtual Phonology: Rule-Sandwiching and Multiple Opacity in North Saami [Dissertation]|
|Abstract:||This dissertation develops a novel perspective, Virtual Phonology, on the problem of phonological opacity in Optimality Theory.
The major theoretical innovation of the model is the prediction of a novel kind of phonological opacity, `rule sandwiching\', which cannot be derived on existing optimality-theoretic accounts of phonological opacity, such as Sympathy Theory or Turbidity Theory. Specifically, three-rule interactions of the form P>Q>R (> `ordered prior to\'), where P and Q interact transparently, but R opacifies Q and P and R introduce identical faithfulness violations, are ruled out by Sympathy Theory. This prediction is checked against data from several languages, including Yawelmani Yokuts (California), Hebrew, Mohawk (New York State), and North Saami. These languages provide support for the view that rule sandwiching is attested in actual languages.
The dissertation also makes strong claims concerning the treatment of morphological conditioning, and argues that morphologically conditioned alternations be treated as formally on a par with phonological opacity, i.e. as abstractly phonologically conditioned. It is argued that this move is almost forced upon us if we accept the Optimality-theoretic claim that constraints on linguistic representations are universal and functionally-grounded. The thesis goes on to explore some of the consequences of adopting this position for the psychological reality of generative grammars and language acquisition.
The work is the first systematic attempt at analyzing any sizable portion of North Saami phonology using Optimality Theory, or indeed any generative analytical techniques.
Much of the phonological activity of the language centres on the highly intricate quantitative system and interactions between processes regulating quantity. Saami evinces a typologically-marked three-way length contrast in consonants (short, long, and overlong). At the heart of the system of quantitative alternations is chain-shifting Consonant Gradation, by which short consonants alternate with long, and long consonants alternate with overlong foot-medially in specific morphologically-defined environments.
In consonant clusters in which the first member of the cluster is a sonorant, this basic pattern is opacified or obscured by other quantitative alternations involving (a) the maximization of the coda position of the stressed syllable of the foot, and (b) overlengthening of a foot-medial long consonant or consonant cluster just in case the following vowel is long.
Other quantitative effects arise through consonant-vowel interaction. The final chapter is dedicated to showing how the intricate opacity facts of North Saami support the central proposal.