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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: van der Auwera, Johan

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Coronals and compounding in Irish

*Correspondence address: Quitzowstr. 114, 10559 Berlin, Germany.

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 46, Issue 2, Pages 193–213, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/LING.2008.009, March 2008

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Irish is characterized by a process of lenition, by which (among other changes) the coronals t, d, s become h, ɣ, h under certain morphosyntactically determined circumstances. Lenition of coronals is blocked (i.e., t, d, s remain unchanged) after other coronal consonants in certain domains, a phenomenon known as coronal blocking (CB). In a subset of CB domains s changes to t rather than remaining s, a phenomenon known as s-Fortition. In this article, it will be shown that the domain of CB and s-Fortition is the (recursive) prosodic word, as these two processes are found in right-headed as well as left-headed compounds, but not in other (noncompound) left-headed complex NPs. An optimality-theoretic analysis reveals that CB and s-Fortition are motivated by the same constraint ranking: the phonological requirement that coronal consonants be followed by other coronal consonants is more important than the selection of the morphologically correct mutation grade of a word.

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