The influence of phonology on inflection: The interplay between syllabification and lexical insertion in pallarese catalan

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This dissertation deals with the constraints that phonology imposes on the exponence of gender. In particular, it explores the interaction between epenthesis and nominal inflection in Pallarese Catalan clitics. Since inflection is located word-finally in Pallarese, I argue that right-edge epenthesis is avoided in order to maintain a strict correspondence between morphological and phonological structure. Inflectional vowels may be used for syllabification purposes in word-final position instead. It is assumed in this thesis that every syntactic functional head projects a postsyntactic theme position (Oltra-Massuet, 1999) where gender is realized. A key aspect of the proposal is the idea that the exponents of gender are floating features, and thus inflection proceeds in two steps. First, the theme position is spelled outwith an underspecified vowel (i. e. , Th ↔ V) and, subsequently, the floating features associated with gender ([+fem] ↔ [+low], i. e. , -[a]; [-fem] ↔ [+labial,-high], i. e. , -[o]) are attached to the V-slot of the theme position. Couched within Optimality Theory, I argue that the constraint ranking determines whether the featural gender exponents surface or not. The feminine is always realized due to a constraint that favors parsing [+low] (which implies adding association lines that are absent in the input), whereas in the masculine the insertion of new association lines in the output is dispreferred and the features associated with [-fem] are not parsed, which accounts for default masculine -[Ø] exponence. If gender is part of the morphosyntatic compositionof a clitic, as in the 3rd person singular masculine accusative clitic, these floating features can nevertheless be attached to the V-slot of the theme position toimprove syllabic structure under certain phonotactic conditions. This 'morphological solution' is less costly than (regular) word-initial epenthesis because it does notneed to create a new skeletal position or insert new features. Impoverishment (Bonet, 1991) deletes gender features in the 3rd person plural accusative clitic, and thus the corresponding phonological features associated with gender cannot be used for syllabification purposes. The theme position with the V-slot is maintained, though, and the default epenthetic features of Pallarese are inserted when required by phonotactics, which forces a thematic interpretation of this vowel. This solution is preferred over word-initial epenthesis because the theme position already provides a skeletal slot. The same procedure applies to other clitics that do not bear gender features either. Even though Pallarese shows a complex morphophonological intertwining regarding gender exponence, the OT analysis presented in this dissertation makes exclusive reference to phonological objects. The morphosyntactic structure of the nominal system constrains epenthesis, but strict modularity can be maintained. Furthermore, the use of floating features in the input can dispense with gender allomorphy (cf. Bonet et al. 2007). As for nouns and adjectives, the general process that spells out an underspecified vowel in the theme position, on the one hand, and floating place features for gendervalues, on the other, is only valid for default endings. That is, vowels other than-a (feminine) and -o (masculine) -when it surfaces- cannot be considered gender markers and need to be fully specified in the theme position of lexical entries instead. Therefore, nouns with non-regular endings are stored as complex representations and phonologically realized in one single step. This supports theories that assume that one exponent (or set of exponents) can spell out whole morphosyntactic
Date of Award27 Jul 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorEulàlia Bonet (Director)

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