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Title:The Tense-Lax Distinction in English Vowels and the Role of Parochial and Analogical Constraints
Authors:Antony D. Green
Comment:Appears in Linguistics in Potsdam 16 (2001), 32-57
Abstract:The vast majority of the work that has been done in
Optimality Theory has focused, sometimes directly,
sometimes indirectly, on the interaction between markedness
(or well-formedness) constraints and faithfulness
constraints. In this paper I investigate a particular kind
of lexical exception, namely cases where phonotactic well-
formedness is regularly violated by certain vowel +
consonant sequences in most words (including the most
common ones), while it is obeyed only in a handful of rare
(mostly foreign) words. The focus of discussion is the
distribution of tense and lax vowels in Eastern General
American English: There are several environments (stressed
open final syllables, position before certain consonants
and consonant clusters) where the two types of vowel are in
near-complementary distribution, but there are a few
lexical exceptions among non-low vowels as well as regular
violations of the phonotactics among low vowels. In recent
loanwords, there are exceptions to these regular
violations; in other words, the phonotactically expected
pattern is found only in foreign words but not in native
words. I argue that these exceptions to well-formedness are
attributable to the influence of a network of connections
between lexical items, concretely represented in the theory
as a web of conjoined output-output (OO) correspondence
constraints known as analogical constraints (Myers 1999).
More isolated lexical exceptions are attributed to the
influence of morpheme-specific parochial constraints. The
role that analogical constraints and parochial constraints
play in this analysis demonstrates an important consequence
for Optimality Theory: There is more to phonology than just
the interaction between markedness and faithfulness
constraints, since constraints can also encourage the
proliferation of a phonologically marked pattern, and can
also require specific lexical items to have a certain
phonological shape.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1