Tone-driven epenthesis in Wamey
Nicholas Rolle, John T. M. Merrill
May 2022

This paper argues that tone-driven epenthesis is possible in tonal languages, contrary to claims in the literature that it is unattested/impossible. In Wamey, an epenthetic [ə] is inserted to host a high tone in two contexts. The first is to host a tone which would otherwise be left floating due to a restriction on rising tones in closed syllables, i.e. /cv̀cⒽ/ maps to [cv̀cə́] due to a ban *[cv̌c]. The second is to host a tone which is introduced by word-level morphology but is restricted from associating across a stem boundary, i.e. an input /(cv̀cv̀)cⒽ/ maps to [(cv̀cv̀)cə́] not *[(cv̀cv́)c]. These patterns cannot be attributed to syllable phonotactics, which freely allow all consonants in coda position. We assemble the evidence for tone-driven epenthesis, focusing on the distribution of final [ə] in lexical stem structure and [ə]-alternating suffixes which pattern as underlyingly consonant-final. A simple OT analysis derives [ə]-epenthesis, utilising common constraints (e.g. *FLOAT, *RISE, OCP(H), DEP(μ), etc.) together with constraints against associating tone across certain prosodic boundaries. In total, Wamey provides evidence for parallelism between tonal and intonational languages given that intonation-driven epenthesis is well-established in the literature. This parallelism is predicted under a model where both types of prosodic systems make use of the same phonological substance and autosegmental architecture, and have the same functional pressures to cultivate segmental environments best suited for realizing pitch targets.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006624
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Accepted at Phonology
keywords: epenthesis, tone, tone-segment interaction, prosodic constituency, optimality theory, morphology, phonology
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