Emergent Stops in English and in Polish: Against Syllable-Based Accounts
Consonant epenthesis has been used to provide support for syllable-based approaches. In Optimality Theoretic accounts, epenthesis serves to reduce the markedness by providing missing onsets. In this paper, I look at a different type of apparent insertion, the emergence of stops in consonant clusters. In search for a possible driver of the process, I consider syllable structure, syllable contact, and sonority distance. It is demonstrated that the syllable cannot be held accountable for the appearance of stops in consonant clusters. More generally, reference to markedness results in wrong predictions. It is argued that a diachronic phonetically-based explanation referring to aerodynamic requirements and articulatory gestures has significantly more explanatory power. The mis-timing of phonetic gestures may lead to structural reinterpretation, giving rise to the phonologization of emergent stops. Historical and modern English, as well as dialectal Polish, provide the primary illustrative examples for this phonetically-based analysis.
Syllable Structure of Ukrainian. An Ot Perspective
This paper aims at presenting an OT account of the basic syllable structure of Ukrainian. Among the specifically Ukrainian syllable-driven processes that are considered are onset maximisation, prothesis, voice assimilation, as well as the behaviour of clusters of obstruents agreeing and disagreeing in voicing, sonority plateaus and extrasyllabic sonorants. Optimality Theory is shown to successfully handle dialectal variation in the application of prothesis, as well as the transparency effects in voice assimilation.
Non-Teleological Approaches to Metathesis: Evidence from Dialects of Polish
This paper discusses metathesis and other related processes attested in the North Mazovian dialects of Polish. Recently proposed functional approaches to sound change provide a framework for this analysis. It is argued that the transposition of segments with elongated phonetic cues is best analyzed as an instance of phonetically-based sound change. Copying a consonant across a rhotic finds a similar perceptual explanation involving the reinterpretation of the acoustic signal. In addition to perceptual metathesis, I consider cases that fall under coarticulatory metathesis and arise from varying degrees of gestural overlap. In comparison to previous approaches to metathesis, the role of syllable structure in driving metathesis is considerably diminished but not refuted. Structural optimization presumably operates in tandem with phonetic and perceptual factors. Language processing is called to attention in accounting for the long-distance transposition of similar segments. A connectionist approach that makes reference to activation and competition in a neural network of linguistic units is invoked to define this type of metathesis. On the whole, the Polish dialectal data support the hypothesis that sound change is fundamentally diachronic and non-optimizing.
Modularity of grammar has been explicitly or tacitly assumed in many generative analyses. Modules are separate computational systems that perform specific tasks and make use of domain-specific information. It is argued that the concept is difficult to maintain in the light of evidence from Polish. I look at palatalization effects before vowels and conclude that phonological regularities must have access to morphosyntactic information. In addition, certain regularities in the selection of diminutive allomorphs suggest that morphology must have access to phonetic information. As domain specificity, the core concept of modular approaches, is compromised, modularity does not seem a likely candidate for a universal property of grammar.
It is argued that a universal hierarchical organization of features based on phonetic criteria is not a property of mental grammars. Hardening of the palatal glide in the context of labials gave rise to synchronic alternations in dialectal Polish that cannot be generated under analyses that relate structural complexity to phonetic factors. Theories that propose a phonetically-based hierarchical organization of features (various models of feature geometry) are shown to be inadequate because they fail to predict the existence of diverse palatalization patterns within one linguistic system. It is argued that an account of labial palatalization must rely on language-specific generalizations extracted from the data. Two approaches are consistent with this claim: an analogical approach and a substance-free geometrical approach. The proposed analogical analysis employs phonetically-neutral generalizations manipulating segments and the substance-free analysis makes use of Optimality Theoretic constraints that refer to a hierarchy of features established on a language-particular basis.