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Title:Identity Avoidance in Phonology and Morphology
Authors:Moira Yip
Abstract:Identity Avoidance in Phonology and Morphology

Moira Yip

University of California, Irvine

Many languages avoid sequences of homophonous elements, be they

phonemes or morphemes. It is argued that a single principle underlies

all such cases of avoidance, and that this principle can interact with

the rest of the grammar resulting in the omission of one morpheme, or

forcing a choice between different syntactic outputs. This paper is

formulated within Optimality Theory, and makes three main points.

First, at least some inputs to the Optimality Grammar must be abstract

morphological specifications like Plural. They are phonologically

incomplete outputs of the morpho-syntax. Second, morpheme realization

results from an attempt to meet output targets in the form of

constraints: Repeat, =E52 =3Da; Pl=3Ds, and so on. Such morphemes do

not have underlying forms in the familiar sense (cf Hammond 1995,

Russell 1995). Third, the target constraints may be out-ranked by

phonological constraints of various kinds, particularly constraints

against the repetition of elements, here called the OCP. The

elements may be phonological (feature, segment) or morphological

(affix, stem). These findings support the view of Pierrehumbert

(1993a) that identity has broad cognitive roots. Section 1 gives some

background on the handling of morphological data in OT. Section 2

discusses identity avoidance in morphology and sets out the basic

proposal. Section 3 discusses cases of adjacent homophonous morphemes

in Mandarin, English, and Classical Greek. Section 4 looks at

homophonous morphemes on adjacent words (but which are not themselves

string-adjacent) in English and Hindi. Section 5 looks at

reduplication in Javanese, and argues that echo- words result from the

tension between a requirement that penalizes a sequence of two

identical stems, OCP(Stem), and one that requires two identical stems,


To appear in the Proceedings of the Conference on

Morphology and its relation to Syntax and Phonology. UC Davis, May 1995.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1