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Morphologically governed accent in optimality theory

John D Alderete, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation examines the influence of morphological factors on lexical stress and pitch accent. Two basic types are recognized. In root-controlled accent, inherent accent in a root overrides inherent affix accent; as a result, affixal accent is only realized in words with unaccented roots. In affix-controlled accent, the presence of a particular affix triggers one of several accentual mutations in the base: deletion of accent, insertion of an accent (often known as pre- or post-accentuation), and accent shift or “flop”. I argue that these two types of accentual behavior, despite important differences, are united under the rubric of faithfulness constraints in Optimality Theory. Root-controlled accent is a consequence of the privileged faithfulness status of roots over affixes, as has been shown in other empirical domains such as vowel harmony. Affix-controlled accent is due to a novel type of constraint, anti-faithfulness, which evaluates a pair of related words and requires an alternation in the base of affixation. The principal case of root-controlled accent studied in this dissertation is the Uto-Aztecan language Cupeño. In addition, I show how the accentual systems of Japanese and Russian fall within the scope of root faithfulness constraints. The study of these cases leads to a substantive restriction on the range of edge effects in accent systems, and clarifies a role for root accentedness in blocking morpho-accentual processes. A number of properties of affix-controlled accentual processes are identified and shown to follow from the anti-faithfulness thesis. Affix-controlled accent is (I) morphologically triggered, (II) stem-mutating, and (III) grammar dependent. (I–II) follow from the assumption that anti-faithfulness operates on related words: forcing an alternation in a pair of words ensures that affix-controlled accent is morphological because it contrasts two word classes. Furthermore, anti-faithfulness only affects the interval of a word which occurs throughout a paradigm, namely the stem (II). Finally, anti-faithfulness does not fully specify how a set of words should differ accentually; the specific effects of anti-faithfulness therefore depend on the larger grammar in which it is embedded (III). Affix-controlled accent in Russian, Japanese, Cupeño, Limburg Dutch, and Aguaruna (Jivaroan) is investigated in a series of case studies. I argue that anti-faithfulness constitutes an integrated theory of the diverse morpho-accentual phenomena found in these languages, explains the important differences between the accentual properties of affixes and roots, and establishes parallels with non-accentual affix-controlled phenomena.

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Recommended Citation

Alderete, John D, "Morphologically governed accent in optimality theory" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9932283.