Publication Date

January 1986


Copyright MIT Press.


Few putative properties of phonological organization have had as erratic a history as the Obligatory Contour Principle (hereafter the OCP). Originally proposed to account for distributional regularities in lexical tone systems (Leben 1973), its role in tone was later either modified (Leben 1978), rejected (Goldsmith 1976), or limited to the phonetic level (Goldsmith 1976 as well). The OCP has enjoyed considerably greater success in its application to nonlinear segmental phonology (McCarthy 1979), and a fairly detailed examination of its role in such nonprosodic domains is the focus of this article.