LINGUIST List 21.3242

Wed Aug 11 2010

Diss: Phonology: Martinez: 'Sources of Non-Conformity in Phonology ...'

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        1.    Michal Temkin Martinez, Sources of Non-Conformity in Phonology: Variation and exceptionality in Modern Hebrew spirantization

Message 1: Sources of Non-Conformity in Phonology: Variation and exceptionality in Modern Hebrew spirantization
Date: 11-Aug-2010
From: Michal Temkin Martinez <>
Subject: Sources of Non-Conformity in Phonology: Variation and exceptionality in Modern Hebrew spirantization
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Institution: University of Southern California Program: Department of Linguistics Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 2010

Author: Michal Temkin Martinez

Dissertation Title: Sources of Non-Conformity in Phonology: Variation and exceptionality in Modern Hebrew spirantization

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
Subject Language(s): Hebrew (heb)
Dissertation Director:
Louis Goldstein Elsi Kaiser Rachel Walker Mario Saltarelli Ania Lubowicz
Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the integration of two sources ofnon-conformity exceptionality and variation - in a single phonologicalsystem. Exceptionality manifests itself as systematic non-conformity, andvariation as partial or variable non-conformity. When both occur within thesame phenomenon, this is particularly challenging for the linguisticsystem. Modern Hebrew spirantization provides an apt case study for theinvestigation of the interaction of these two sources of non-conformitywhere exceptional (non-alternating) segments are frequent, and variation inalternating segments has been reported (Adam, 2002). This dissertationmakes contributions in the forms of both data and analysis. Its goals areto provide a description of exceptionality and variation in Modern Hebrewspirantization and an analysis which incorporates alternation,exceptionality and variation.

To collect data for the description of Modern Hebrew spirantization inverbal paradigms, an experimental rating task was conducted. Its goal wasto examine speakers' acceptance of variation in both alternating andexceptional segments in Modern Hebrew spirantization, where stops andfricatives alternate, with the latter occurring in post-vocalic contextsand the former occurring elsewhere. The results establish that variation isat least somewhat acceptable in both alternating and exceptional segments,and is significantly more acceptable in alternating segments than inexceptional ones. Moreover, speakers showed a preference for the expectedforms of both types of segments (i.e. the non-alternating form inexceptions, and post-vocalic fricatives or word-initial andpost-consonantal stops in alternating segments). Importantly, the resultsalso show that variation in both types of segments is gradient.

To account for alternation, exceptionality, and variation in relation to asingle phonological process, I propose a model combining the set-indexationapproach for exceptionality (Pater, 2000) with stochastic OT and theGradual Learning Algorithm for gradience in variation (Boersma, 1998;Boersma & Hayes, 2001; Hayes & Londe, 2006; Hayes & MacEachern, 1998;Zuraw, 2000). I call this the 'combined model'. I show that neitherapproach is able to account for both sources of non-conformity on its own;set-indexation allows only for categorical distinctions between alternationand exceptionality, whereas ranking distributions in stochastic OT limitthe possible range of constraint interactions to account only for variation.

Looking forward, implementing the acquisition of these patterns in currentmodels of the learning algorithms results in a paradox. In particular,set-indexation and stochastic constraint rankings both presuppose that themechanism they do not account for is established by a different mechanism -set-indexation is only implemented once variation and speech errors havebeen ruled out as the cause for non-alternation, whereas in order toprovide the stochastic constraint rankings accounting for acceptability ofvariation in all tokens, set-indexation must have already been implemented.This study therefore opens new avenues for research directions involvinglearning algorithms, which are open to future refinement in handlingpatterns of non-conformity.

Page Updated: 11-Aug-2010