Candidate chains, unfaithful spell-out, and outwards-looking phonologically-conditioned allomorphy
Matthew Wolf
August 2011

Serial theories of morphology typically assume that morphological structure is phonologically instantiated in a cyclic, inside-out manner. This predicts that suppletive allomorphy of inner material cannot be sensitive to the phonological properties of outer material. The claimed non-existence of such outwards-sensitive allomorph selection has been cited as an argument for a strictly serial approach and against parallel Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 2004 [1993]), where the form of an entire word is computed at once and hence outwards sensitivity is freely permitted. In this paper I argue that a purely serial model of allomorph selection cannot be correct, because outwards-sensitivity is not completely unattested. At the same time, the space of attested examples is limited enough that a purely parallel model is clearly under-restrictive. I argue further that the circumstances where outwards phonological sensitivity does become possible are correctly predicted under a version of Optimal Interleaving (Wolf 2008), a theory of phonology-morphology interaction cast within McCarthy's (2007) OT with Candidate Chains. In OT-CC, the grammar constructs a set of harmonically-improving derivations, which compete against one another as candidates. With respect to phonological operations, OT-CC's Local Optimality requirement dictates that changes which violate the same basic faithfulness constraint must compete locally, in the course of chain construction. This paper amends the original version of OI by proposing that Local Optimality for morph-insertion is similar: different morph-insertions must compete locally (are subject to Local Optimality) when they would violate the same (possibly empty) sets of faithfulness constraints on morpheme-morph correspondence. This predicts that local competition is suspended, and thus that outwards sensitivity becomes possible, in cases where one of the competing allomorphs is unfaithful relative to the morphosyntactic input in ways that the other is not. I argue, based on examples from Western Armenian and Kayardild, that this prediction is borne out. I also discuss how phonologically-conditioned allomorphy of roots (which is by definition outwards-looking) can be made sense of in OI.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/001318
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in special issue of Morphology on “New theoretical tools in the modeling of morphological exponence”, guest-edited by Jochen Trommer
keywords: allomorph selection, candidate chains, ot-cc, optimal interleaving, oi, lookahead, armenian, kayardild, morphology, phonology
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