*ABA and The Combinatorics of Morphological Features
Jonathan Bobaljik, Uli Sauerland
August 2017

In several three cell paradigms, it has been observed that one logically conceivable pattern – ABA under some arrangement of cells – is unattested. Existing approaches assume that such *ABA generalizations provide evidence for feature inventories which are restricted to features that stand in containment relations, and are thus subject to Pāṇinian rule order. We present a novel approach to *ABA generalizations that derives from general properties of feature-based morphology. To this end, we develop a formal account of the widespread view that morphological paradigms derive from rules that relate abstract features from an inventory to morphological exponents. We demonstrate that the feature-based view restricts the space of typological patterns even without any further assumptions. We show furthermore that the feature-based theory derives *ABA as a special case of a broader class of generalizations if the number of features in the inventory must be minimal, and that these generalizations arise under a variety of general assumptions about feature-algebras (extrinsically ordered or Pāṇinian and with or without feature intersection). We discuss which explanation might be correct for actual cases of *ABA constraints, and we explore the consequences of the feature-based general approach for a range of paradigm sizes including those with more than three cells.
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Reference: lingbuzz/003320
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keywords: features, morphology, combinatorics, syncretism, typology, morphology
previous versions: v1 [February 2017]
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