Lloret and Pons-Moll (2016): Catalan Vowel Epenthesis as Evidence for the Free Ride Approach to Morphophonemic Learning

Direct link: http://roa.rutgers.edu/content/article/files/1593_lloret_1.pdf

ROA: 1296
Title: Catalan Vowel Epenthesis as Evidence for the Free Ride Approach to Morphophonemic Learning
Authors: Maria-Rosa Lloret, Claudia Pons-Moll
Comment: Final version in Linguistic Inquiry. Winter 2016, Vol. 47, No. 1: 147-157, available at: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/ling/47/1
Length: 10
Abstract: Although the discovery of underlying representations (URs) is a complex

task that may be conditioned by various factors (see, e.g., Albright

2002), it has traditionally been claimed to be quite straightforward

when the UR is revealed by productive and transparent morphophonemic

alternations and when there is a clear and regular phonological

condition in the language that justifies the disparities between the

presumed UR and the corresponding surface representation. Among

other possible scenarios (see, e.g., Albright 2008, Kager 2008, Pater

et al. 2012), uncertainty appears when these morphophonemic alternations

do not exist, when they are not fully productive and transparent,

or when more than one interpretation of the UR is possible. This is

the case of the URs of words beginning with esC – in Catalan, which

we discuss here.


The purpose of this squib is twofold. On the empirical side, we

provide new arguments for the epenthetic nature of the vowel in esC –

words, arising from the interaction between potential word-initial

vowel epenthesis and underapplication of vowel reduction

(VR) in Majorcan Catalan. On the theoretical side,

we show how Majorcan Catalan learners take a “free ride” (McCarthy

2005) in the process of constructing the UR of nonalternating forms

involving esC – initials by generalizing the pattern–and the subsequent

input-output mapping–observed in cases with transparent morphophonemic

alternations and a similar syllabification problem.

Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: phonology, UR, morphophonemic learning, free-ride, richness of the base, lexicon optimization, vowel epenthesis, Catalan


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