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LINGUIST List 19.151

Mon Jan 14 2008

Diss: Morphology: Xu: ' Inflectional Morphology in Optimality Theory'

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        1.    Zheng Xu, Inflectional Morphology in Optimality Theory

Message 1: Inflectional Morphology in Optimality Theory
Date: 11-Jan-2008
From: Zheng Xu <chsxznus.edu.sg>
Subject: Inflectional Morphology in Optimality Theory
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Institution: State University of New York at Stony Brook
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Zheng Xu

Dissertation Title: Inflectional Morphology in Optimality Theory

Dissertation URL: http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/chsxz/Inflectional%20Morphology%20in%20Optimality%20Theory.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology

Dissertation Director:
Mark Aronoff
James P. Blevins
Alice C. Harris
Robert D. Hoberman

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation proposes an inferential-realizational model of
inflectional morphology (Matthews 1972, Zwicky 1985, Anderson 1992, Aronoff
1994, Stump 2001) within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince and
Smolensky 1993). Following Russell 1995, Yip 1998, Hyman 2003, MacBride
2004, I assume that the phonological information of inflectional affixes is
introduced through realization constraints (RC) which associate abstract
morphosyntactic or semantic feature values with phonological forms. I
propose that rankings of realization constraints conform to the specificity
condition, i.e. a constraint realizing a more specific morphosyntactic
feature value set outranks a less specific realization constraint. I also
propose that the unmarked situation in which one feature value is realized
by one form (Wurzel 1989) is encoded in two universal and violable
markedness constraints, *FEATURE SPLIT which bans the realization of a
feature value by more than one form and *FEATURE FUSION which bans a form
realizing more than one feature value.

Based on this model, I examine language phenomena such as OCP-triggered
selection of phonologically unrelated (allo)morphs in Greek, Hungarian,
Tswana, and Spanish, ordering of inflectional affixes in Lezgian, blocking
of inflectional affixes and extended morphological exponence in languages
like Tamazight Berber, and directional syncretism in languages like Latin.

I show that this model has advantages over other morphological models in
several ways. (1) It readily captures cases in which a default marker
emerges to replace a morphosyntactically more specific marker which is
expected to be adjacent to a phonologically similar form (OCP >> RCspecific
>> RCless specific). By contrast, the relation between a more specific
marker and a less specific one needs to be stipulated in the input in a
model which introduces phonological information through inputs (e.g. Bonet
2004). (2) It readily captures universal generalizations on affix order
(Greenberg 1963, Bybee 1985), e.g. a number exponent cannot be farther away
from a nominal stem than a case exponent because case scopes over number.
Such generalizations are missed in Paradigm Function Morphology (Stump
2001) without extraordinary machinery. (3) Based on rankings of *FEATURE
SPLIT and constraints realizing the same morphosyntactic feature value(s),
it provides a unified account of both blocking and extended exponence
without recourse to either a distinction between primary and secondary
exponents (Noyer 1992) or multiple rule blocks (Stump 2001). (4) Based on
output-to-output correspondence constraints (Benua 1995, McCarthy and
Prince 1995), it readily captures cases of divergent bidirectional
syncretism (Baerman 2004) in which syncretism brings about both marked and
unmarked forms, a problem for Noyer 1998, which claims that syncretism
always moves from a more marked to a less marked state.

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