Loanword phonology, lexical exceptions, morphologically driven underapplication, and the nature of positionally biased constraints

Clàudia Pons-Moll

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    In this paper we provide a formal account for underapplication of vowel reduction to schwa in Majorcan Catalan loanwords and learned words. On the basis of the comparison of these data with those concerning productive derivation and verbal inflection, which show analogous patterns, in this paper we also explore the existing -and not yet acknowledged- correlation between those processes that exhibit a particular behaviour in the loanword phonology with respect to the native phonology of the language, those processes that show lexical exceptions and those processes that underapply due to morphological reasons. In light of the analysis of the very same data and taking into account the aforementioned correlation, we show how there might exist a natural diachronic relation between two kinds of Optimality Theory constraints which are commonly used but, in principle, mutually exclusive: positional faithfulness and contextual markedness constraints. Overall, phonological productivity is proven to be crucial in three respects: first, as a context of the grammar, given that «underapplication» is systematically found in what we call the productive phonology of the dialect (including loanwords, learned words, productive derivation and verbal inflection); second, as a trigger or blocker of processes, in that the productivity or the lack of productivity of a specific process or constraint in the language is what explains whether it is challenged or not in any of the depicted situations, and, third, as a guiding principle which can explain the transition from the historical to the synchronic phonology of a linguistic variety.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-166
    JournalCatalan Journal of Linguistics
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


    • Catalan
    • Contextual markedness
    • Differential importation
    • Loanwords and learned words
    • Positional faithfulness
    • Underapplication of vowel reduction

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