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Title:Structural disparities in Navajo word domains: A case for LexCat-Faithfulness
Authors:John Alderete
Comment:Published in The Linguistic Review 20, pages 111-158.
Abstract:Verbs in Navajo are made up of a stem and two types of prefixes: the so-called disjunct prefixes and conjunct prefixes. Disjunct prefixes form a natural class with stems because, like stems, they exhibit the full range of phonological structures. Disjunct prefixes and stems are also similar morpho-syntactically in that they constitute lexical categories in contemporary syntactic theories (Rice, 1993; 2000). These properties distinguish disjunct and stem morphemes from conjunct prefixes, which are functional items and composed of sounds from a highly restricted phonological inventory. The chief aim of this article is to give a natural account of the structural disparities between these two word domains, i.e., one that successfully relates the lex-cat/func-cat distinction to the availability of phonological structure.

A comprehensive analysis is given in Optimality Theory that explains this relationship with a development in the theory of faithfulness constraints, Positional Faithfulness (Beckman, 1998). In particular, lexical categories are argued to have a privileged faithfulness status in the sense that they require a stronger form of identity to their lexical representation. Disjunct prefixes and stems are lexical categories, and so they may have the full range of phonological structures because of their privileged faithfulness status. Conjunct prefixes, on the other hand, are functional categories, and therefore they have a more restricted phonological inventory. Additional support for the Positional Faithfulness analysis is found in the analysis of the phonological processes affecting the two domains. It is shown that the phonological processes characteristic of the two domains follow naturally as a consequence of the inventory restrictions intrinsic to each domain. These results distinguish the Positional Faithfulness analysis from other plausible analyses in terms of Positional Markedness ((Steriade, 1997), (Zoll, 1998)), which are shown to have a number of disadvantages.

Data source: the prefixes that constitute the core data in the analysis of the inventory differences are organized in an Excel spreadsheet. If you have trouble downloading this file on your browser, try using Internet Explorer (if not already) or right-click on it in Netscape and use the 'Save Link As' function. If all else fails, contact the author for the data file
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Phonology, Morphology, Syntax
Article:Part 1
Part 2
Part 3