LINGUIST List 15.1399

Tue May 4 2004

Diss: Ling Theories: Wee: 'Inter-tier ...'

Editor for this issue: Tomoko Okuno <>


  1. lian_hee, Inter-tier Correspondence Theory

Message 1: Inter-tier Correspondence Theory

Date: Sat, 1 May 2004 04:33:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: lian_hee <>
Subject: Inter-tier Correspondence Theory

Institution: Rutgers University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Lian Hee Wee

Dissertation Title: Inter-tier Correspondence Theory

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: Linguistic Theories, Phonology

Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin (Code: CHN)

Dissertation Director 1: Akinbiyi Akinlabi
Dissertation Director 2: Alan Prince
Dissertation Director 3: Young-mee Yu-cho
Dissertation Director 4: Matthew Chen

Dissertation Abstract:

Inter-tier Correspondence Theory (ICT) is a theory of candidate
structure. It is a response to phenomena in which both opaque and
transparent derivational effects are simultaneously attested. The
response that ICT provides rests upon the recognition that structural
configurations are crucial in triggering alternations in the first

By appealing to percolation, ICT assumes that each phonological output
candidate is in fact a structural representation where non-terminal
nodes reconstruct the information content of the constituent
nodes. However, reconstruction may be imperfect. That outputs are
structural is hardly novel, since GEN generates structures to given
strings. Instead, it is the carriage of information in non-terminal
nodes that is noteworthy. Under ICT, terminal nodes would be identical
to the input string. Alternations no longer apply to strings but to
constituencies as elements of the input string percolate upwards in
their constituent structures. This is an important improvement because
it directly addresses the fact that mere adjacency does not trigger
alternation (many marked collocations are tolerated if the offending
sequence are not within the same constituent). To be precise, GEN
takes an input string and maps it to candidate structures of various
percolative possibilities with the terminal nodes identical to the
input string and non-terminal nodes corresponding to their
subordinates in a multitude of ways. Thus, ICT directly captures the
insights of the containment and correspondence approaches within
optimality theory. There is nothing derivational about percolation
when construed as correspondence between tiers. In fact, ICT views
structural tiers as one would a multi-layered club sandwich. In making
the sandwich, layers are ordered, but in eating, it hardly matters.

The usefulness of ICT is illustrated through a study of tonological
alternation patterns in Mandarin and Tianjin. These languages
illustrate that simultaneous exhibition of any of "feeding",
"bleeding", "counterfeeding" and "Ccounterbleeding" effects, are
really results of alternations applying to constituents as they grow
in size (in other words, upward percolation).

This dissertation studies Mandarin and Tianjin in detail, but ICT
extends beyond that. To qualify ICT as a general theory for opacity,
this work also takes glimpses at English, Tiberian Hebrew and Yokuts.
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