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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Anti-Homophony Blocking and its Productivity in Transparadigmatic Relations Add Dissertation
Author: Larry Ichimura Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Boston University, Linguistics Department
Completed in: 2006
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology;
Subject Language(s): Japanese
Director(s): Donca Steriade
Bruce Moren
Jonathan Barnes

Abstract: This dissertation addresses “anti-homophony blocking” in transparadigmatic
relations, where an application of a particular phonological process is
blocked in order to avoid homophony creation by neutralization of distinct
inputs between morphologically unrelated words.

Past research was concerned with anti-homophony blocking but only within
the inflectional paradigm. The possibility that this principle is also
applied to transparadigmatic relations has not been pursued. In recent
literature, anti-homophony constraints in paradigmatic relations have been
proposed (Crosswhite 1999, 2001, among others) within the framework of
Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993). However, no attempt has been
documented that proves that anti-homophony blocking is in fact a productive
process. I examine these two key issues: first that anti-homophony blocking
applies to transparadigmatic relations; second that it is productive, using
a case of anti-homophony blocking in Japanese.

The main data comes from 'contracted forms' (Kikuzawa 1935, Toki 1975) in
derived environments in Japanese, created by syncope along with lenition or
deletion of the adjacent consonant. Within the framework of Optimality
Theory, I will demonstrate that the contraction process and anti-homophony
blocking in transparadigmatic relations are accounted for by particular
constraints and ranking specific to the contraction grammar. I propose an
anti-homophony constraint called CONTRAST, which is integrated into the
contraction grammar. Analyses are given as to why homophony is created in
inflectional morphology, as it could be counterevidence to my claim of
anti-homophony blocking. I will argue that the anti-homophony principle
must be phonology-internal which is embedded in the phonological grammar.

I conducted an experiment to test the extent to which anti-homophony
blocking is part of the phonological grammar of Japanese, which provides
some evidence in support of the claim that contraction and anti-homophony
blocking are productive processes. Using a Japanese corpus, I found that
there is no positive influence of word frequency and word familiarity on
the occurrence and blocking of contractions.

This dissertation concludes that anti-homophony blocking is not limited to
an inflectional paradigm but also occurs in transparadigmatic relations,
and it is part of the productive phonological grammar.