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Cumulative constraint interaction in phonological acquisition and typology

Karen Christine Jesney, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores the consequences of cumulative interaction among markedness constraints in Harmonic Grammar (HG; Legendre, Miyata & Smolensky 1990, Smolensky & Legendre 2006), showing how HG inherently restricts cumulativity, allowing clear predictions about possible and impossible interactions to be made. Chapter 2 addresses the ability of HG to model certain patterns with a more limited constraint set than is feasible in Optimality Theory (OT; Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004). The particular focus here is on positional licensing constraints. The partially-overlapping contexts of these constraints lead to typologically-meaningful gang effects, allowing HG to capture patterns of disjunctive licensing that require the addition of positional faithfulness constraints in OT. With a smaller constraint set, the HG typology is restricted beyond what is possible in OT where more constraints are necessary.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Jesney, Karen Christine, "Cumulative constraint interaction in phonological acquisition and typology" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3482633.