Round 2017: Phonological exceptionality is localized to phonological elements: the argument from learnability and Yidiny word-final deletion

Direct link: http://roa.rutgers.edu/content/article/files/1668_round_1.pdf

ROA: 1313
Title: Phonological exceptionality is localized to phonological elements: the argument from learnability and Yidiny word-final deletion
Authors: Erich Round
Comment: In Bowern, Horn & Zanuttini (eds) On looking into words (and beyond): Structures, relations, analyses. pp. 59-97. Berlin: Language Science Press. http://langsci-press.org/catalog/book/151
Length: 40pp
Abstract: Phonological exceptionality is a subject of intense and productive research in phonological theory. Here it is argued that the most coherent theory of exceptionality is diacritic (e.g. Pater 2000), but diacritic not at the level of morphs but of phonological elements. Relative to indices on phonological elements, indices on morphs add computational cost for no benefit during constraint evaluation and learning; and a theory without indices on phonological elements is empirically insufficient. On the other hand, approaches which represent exceptionality by purely phonological means (e.g. Zoll 1996) are ill-suited to efficient learning. Concerns that a phonologically-indexed analysis would overgenerate (Gouskova 2012) are misplaced under realistic assumptions about the learner. Second, it is argued that successful phonological learning via Biased Constraint Demotion (Prince & Tesar 2004) will require a Morphological Coherence Principle (MCP) which operationalizes morphological analytic bias (Moreton 2008) that is needed ensure correct constraint cloning (Pater 2009). Focusing on word final deletion in Yidiny (Dixon 1977a), I show that the learning of exceptional phonological patterns is improved if we assume the existence of an MCP. Furthermore, the MCP allows the initial state of Con to be simplified, and thus shifts explanatory burden away from the representation of the grammar per se and towards the learning device, consistent Anderson’s (2008) argument, that the space of possible human grammars must be constrained not only by limits on what is cognitively representable, but by what is learnable.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area: exceptionality, grammar learning, indexed constraints, yidiny, CON, Morphological Coherence Principle

 

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