Morphological conditioning of phonological regularization

Maria Gouskova 1  and Tal Linzen 1
  • 1 New York University, New York, NY, USA
Maria Gouskova and Tal Linzen


We analyze three types of cases in which exceptional morphemes become regular in the presence of other morphemes (regularization effects). Vowel deletion in some Russian prepositions depends on the root that follows the preposition and also on the suffix that follows the root. In Japanese, dominant suffixes assign an accentual pattern to accented roots, but in Slovenian, dominance is conditional – revoked by another suffix. Finally, Tagalog and Dutch loanwords can contain non-native segments, except when certain affixes are present. We account for these phenomena in a new constraint-based framework, Lexical MaxEnt with regularization factors. In this framework, constraint weights are rescaled for exceptional morphemes, and some affixes carry regularization factors that reduce or cancel rescaling. We argue that regularization is a property of morphemes rather than whole words, and that it follows from how these morphemes are combined in the grammar rather than from whole-word storage in the lexicon.

  • Albright, Adam & Bruce Hayes. 2003. Rules vs. analogy in English past tenses: A computational/experimental study. Cognition 90(2). 119–161.

  • Alderete, John. 1999. Morphologically-governed accent in Optimality Theory. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts, Amherst dissertation.

  • Alderete, John. 2001. Dominance effects as transderivational anti-faithfulness. Phonology 18(2). 201–253.

  • Anttila, Arto. 2002. Morphologically conditioned phonological alternations. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 20(1). 1–42.

  • Aronoff, Mark. 1994. Morphology by Itself. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Bachrach, Asaf & Michael Wagner. 2007. Syntactically driven cyclicity vs. output-output correspondence: the case of adjunction in diminutive morphology. Ms. (accessed 11 November, 2014).

  • Becker, Michael. 2009. Phonological trends in the lexicon: The role of constraints. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts dissertation.

  • Becker, Michael & Maria Gouskova. 2012. Source-oriented generalizations as grammar inference in Russian vowel deletion. Ms. Indiana University and NYU. Available on LingBuzz at

  • Becker, Michael, Nihan Ketrez & Andrew Nevins. 2011. The surfeit of the stimulus: Analytic biases filter lexical statistics in Turkish devoicing neutralization. Language 87(1). 84–125.

  • Beckman, Jill. 1997. Positional faithfulness, positional neutralization, and Shona vowel harmony. Phonology 14(1). 1–46.

  • Benua, Laura. 1997. Transderivational identity: Phonological relations between words. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts, Amherst dissertation.

  • Bierwisch, Manfred. 2003. Heads, complements, adjuncts: Projection and saturation. In Ewald Lang & Claudia Maieborn (eds.), Modifying adjuncts, vol. 4, 113–159. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Blevins, Juliette. 1995. The syllable in phonological theory. In John A. Goldsmith (ed.), The handbook of phonological theory, 206–244. Cambridge, MA & Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Blumenfeld, Lev. 2011. Vowel-zero alternations in Russian prepositions: Prosodic constituency and productivity. In Veronika Makarova (ed.), Russian language studies in North America: New perspectives from theoretical and applied linguistics, 43–70. New York: Anthem Press.

  • Boersma, Paul & Bruce Hayes. 2001. Empirical tests of the gradual learning algorithm. Linguistic Inquiry 32(1). 45–86.

  • Bonet, M. Eulàlia. 2004. Morph insertion and allomorphy in Optimality Theory. International Journal of English Studies 4(2). 73–104.

  • Coetzee, Andries & Shigeto Kawahara. 2013. Frequency biases in phonological variation. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 31(1). 47–89.

  • Coetzee, Andries & Joe Pater. 2011. The place of variation in phonological theory. In John Goldsmith, Jason Riggle & Alan Yu (eds.), The Handbook of Phonological Theory, 2nd edn, 401–434. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Crowhurst, Megan & Mark Hewitt. 1997. Boolean operations and constraint interactions in Optimality Theory. Ms., University of North Carolina & Brandeis University (ROA-229).

  • Dubinsky, Stanley & Silvester Ron Simango. 1996. Passive and stative in Chichewa: Evidence for modular distinctions in grammar. Language 72(4). 749–781.

  • Eisner, Jason. 1999. Doing OT in a straightjacket. Handout of a talk presented at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). (Accessed 11 November, 2014).

  • Embick, David. 2010. Localism versus globalism in morphology and phonology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Embick, David & Alec Marantz. 2008. Architecture and blocking. Linguistic Inquiry 39(1). 1–53.

  • Embick, David & Rolf Noyer. 2007. Distributed morphology and the syntax-morphology interface. In Gillian Ramchand & Charles Reiss (eds.), The Oxford handbook of linguistic interfaces, 289–324. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Flack, Kathryn. 2007. Templatic morphology and indexed markedness constraints. Linguistic Inquiry 38(4). 749–758.

  • Flemming, Edward. 2011. Violations are ranked, not constraints: A revised model of constraint interaction in phonology. Handout from a colloquium given at New York University on April 15, 2011.

  • Fukazawa, Haruka, Mafuyu Kitahara & Mitsuhiko Ota. 1998. Lexical stratification and ranking invariance in constraint-based grammars. In M. Catherine Gruber, Derrick Higgins, Kenneth Olson & Tamra Wysocki (eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd meeting of the Chicago linguistic society CLS, part 2: The panels, 47–62. Chicago, IL: Chicago Linguistic Society.

  • Goldwater, Sharon & Mark Johnson. 2003. Learning OT constraint rankings using a maximum entropy model. In Jennifer Spenader, Anders Eriksson & Östen Dahl (eds.), Proceedings of the Stockholm workshop on variation within Optimality Theory, 111–120. Stockholm: Stockholm University.

  • Gouskova, Maria. 2007. The reduplicative template in Tonkawa. Phonology 24(3). 367–396.

  • Gouskova, Maria. 2010. The phonology of boundaries and secondary stress in Russian compounds. The Linguistic Review 17(4). 387–448.

  • Gouskova, Maria. 2012. Unexceptional segments. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30(1). 79–133.

  • Gouskova, Maria & Luiza Newlin-Łukowicz. 2014. Selectional restrictions as phonotactics over sublexicons. Ms. NYU. (accessed 11 November 2014).

  • Greenberg, Marc L. 2003. Word prosody in Slovene from a typological perspective. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung – STUF 56(3). 234–251.

  • Gribanova, Vera. 2009. Phonological evidence for a distinction between Russian prepositions and prefixes. In Gerhild Zybatow, Uwe Junghanns, Denisa Lenertová & Petr Biskup (eds.), Studies in formal Slavic phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and information structure: Proceedings of the 7th European conference on Formal Description of Slavic Languages, 383–396. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag.

  • Halle, Morris. 1973. Prolegomena to a theory of word formation. Linguistic Inquiry 4(1). 3–16.

  • Halle, Morris. 1996. On stress and accent in Indo-European. Language 73(2). 275–313.

  • Hammond, Michael. 2000. There is no lexicon! In Sachiko Ohno Sean Hendricks & Amy Fountain (eds.), Coyote papers 10, 55–77. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona.

  • Hay, Jennifer. 2003. Causes and consequences of word structure. New York & London: Routledge.

  • Hayes, Bruce. 1989. Compensatory Lengthening in moraic phonology. Linguistic Inquiry 20(2). 253–306.

  • Hayes, Bruce & Colin Wilson. 2008. A maximum entropy model of phonotactics and phonotactic learning. Linguistic Inquiry 39(3). 379–440.

  • Hyde, Brett. 2012. Alignment constraints. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 30(3). 789–836.

  • Inkelas, Sharon. 1996. Dominant affixes and the phonology-morphology interface. In Ursula Kleinhenz (ed.), Studia grammatica, vol. 41 Interfaces in phonology, 128–154. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

  • Inkelas, Sharon. 1999. Exceptional stress-attracting suffixes in Turkish: representation vs. the grammar. In René Kager, Harry van der Hulst & Wim Zonneveld (eds.), The prosody-morphology interface, 134–187. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Inkelas, Sharon, C. Orhan Orgun & Cheryl Zoll. 1997. The implications of lexical exceptions for the nature of grammar. In Iggy Roca (ed.), Derivations and constraints in phonology, 393–418. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Inkelas, Sharon & Cheryl Zoll. 2005. Reduplication: doubling in morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Inkelas, Sharon & Cheryl Zoll. 2007. Is grammar dependence real? A comparison between cophonological and indexed constraint approaches to morphologically conditioned phonology. Linguistics 45(1). 133–171.

  • Ito, Junko & Armin Mester. 1995. The core-periphery structure of the lexicon and constraints on reranking. In Jill Beckman, Laura Walsh Dickey & Suzanne Urbanczyk (eds.), Papers in Optimality Theory II (University of Massachusetts occasional papers in linguistics), 181–210. Amherst, MA: GLSA Publications.

  • Ito, Junko & Armin Mester. 1999. The phonological lexicon. In Natsuko Tsujimura (ed.), The handbook of Japanese linguistics, 62–100. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Ito, Junko & Armin Mester. 2003. Japanese morphophonemics: Markedness and word structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Linguistic Inquiry Monograph Series 41.

  • Jackendoff, Ray. 1997. The architecture of the language faculty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Jurgec, Peter. 2010. Disjunctive lexical stratification. Linguistic Inquiry 41(1). 149–161.

  • Jurgec, Peter. 2012. Morphology affects loanword phonology. In Amanda Rysling Hsin-Lun Huang, Ethan Poole (ed.), Proceedings of the 43rd meeting of the NorthEast Linguistic Society (NELS), vol. I, 191–202. Amherst, MA: GLSA Publications.

  • Kang, Yoonjung. 2011. Loanword phonology. In Marc van Oostendorp, Colin Ewen, Elizabeth Hume & Keren Rice (eds.), Blackwell companion to phonology, 2258–2282. Malden, MA & Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Kapatsinski, Vsevolod. 2010. Velar palatalization in Russian and artificial grammar: Constraints on models of morphophonology. Laboratory Phonology 1(2). 361–393.

  • Kawahara, Shigeto. to appear. The phonology of Japanese accent. In Haruo Kubozono (ed.), Handbooks of Japanese language and linguistics: Phonetics and phonology, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Kawahara, Shigeto & Matthew Wolf. 2010. On the existence of root-initial-accenting suffixes: An elicitation study of Japanese [-zu]. Linguistics 48(4). 837–864.

  • Kempe, Vera, Patricia Brooks & Natalija Mironova. 2003. Diminutivization supports gender acquisition in Russian children. Journal of Child Language 30(2). 471–485.

  • Kimper, Wendell. 2011. Competing triggers: Transparency and opacity in vowel harmony. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Doctoral dissertation.

  • Kimper, Wendell. 2013. Trigger asymmetries and locality in harmony: A serial harmonic grammar analysis. Ms., Manchester, UK.

  • Kubozono, Haruo. 2011. Japanese pitch accent. In Marc van Oostendorp, Colin Ewen, Elizabeth Hume & Keren Rice (eds.), Blackwell companion to phonology, vol. V, chap. 120, 2879–2907. Chichester & Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Lehtonen, Minna, Philip J. Monahan & David Poeppel. 2011. Evidence for early morphological decomposition: Combining masked priming with magnetoencephalography. Journal of cognitive neuroscience 23(11). 3366–3379.

  • Lewis, Gwyneth, Olla Solomyak & Alec Marantz. 2011. The neural basis of obligatory decomposition of suffixed words. Brain and language 118(3). 118–127.

  • Lieber, Rochelle. 1980. On the organization of the lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT dissertation.

  • Lieber, Rochelle. 2006. The category of roots and the roots of categories: What we learn from selection in derivation. Morphology 16(2). 247–272.

  • Linzen, Tal, Sofya Kasyanenko & Maria Gouskova. 2013. Lexical and phonological variation in Russian prepositions. Phonology 3(30). 453–515.

  • Lombardi, Linda. 2001. Why place and voice are different: Constraint-specific alternations and Optimality Theory. In Linda Lombardi (ed.), Segmental phonology in optimality theory: Constraints and representations, 13–45. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Mahanta, Shakuntala. 2012. Locality in exceptions and derived environments in vowel harmony. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 30(4). 1109–1146.

  • Marantz, Alec. 1997. No escape from syntax: don’t try morphological analysis in the privacy of your own lexicon. In Alexis Dimitriadis, Laura Siegel, Clarissa Surek-Clark & Alexander Williams (eds.), University of Pennsylvania working papers in linguistics: Proceedings of the 21st Annual Penn Colloquium, vol. 4.2, 201–225.

  • Marantz, Alec. 2007. Phases and words. In Sook-Hee Choe (ed.), Phases in the theory of grammar, 199–222. Seoul: Dong In.

  • Marcus, Gary, Ursula Brinkmann, Harald Clahsen, Wiese Richard & Steven Pinker. 1995. German inflection: the exception that proves the rule. Cognitive Psychology 29(3). 189–256.

  • Marvin, Tatjana. 2008. The interaction between stress, syntax and meaning in Slovenian Priscian formations. In Franc Marušič & Rok Žaucer (eds.), Studies in formal Slavic linguistics. Contributions from Formal Description of Slavic Languages 6.5, 191–212. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag.

  • Mascaró, Joan. 2003. Comparative markedness and derived environments. Theoretical Linguistics 29. 113–122.

  • Matushansky, Ora. 2002. On formal identity of Russian prefixes and prepositions. In Andrew Nevins Olga Vaysman Aniko Csirmaz, Zhiqiang Li & Michael Wagner (eds.), MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 42, 217–253. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

  • McCarthy, John J. 1986. OCP Effects: Gemination and antigemination. Linguistic Inquiry 17(2). 207–263.

  • McCarthy, John J. 2003. OT constraints are categorical. Phonology 20(1). 75–138.

  • McCarthy, John J. 2008. The serial interaction of stress and syncope. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 26(3). 499–546.

  • McCarthy, John J. 2012. Pausal phonology and morpheme realization. In Shigeto Kawahara, Takahito Shinya & Mariko Sugahara (eds.), Prosody matters: Essays in honor of Elisabeth Selkirk, 341–373. London: Equinox Publishing.

  • McCarthy, John J. & Alan Prince. 1994. Two lectures on Prosodic Morphology (Utrecht, 1994). Part I: Template form in Prosodic Morphology. Part II: Faithfulness and reduplicative identity. Available as ROA-59 on the Rutgers Optimality Archive,

  • McCarthy, John J. & Alan Prince. 1995. Faithfulness and reduplicative identity. In Jill Beckman, Laura Walsh Dickey & Suzanne Urbanczyk (eds.), University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers in Linguistics 18, 249–384. Amherst, MA: GLSA Publications.

  • McClelland, James L. & Karalyn Patterson. 2002. “Words or rules” cannot exploit the regularity in exceptions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6(11). 464–465.

  • Melvold, Janis. 1989. Structure and stress in the phonology of Russian. Cambridge, MA: MIT dissertation.

  • Orgun, C. Orhan. 1996. Sign-based Morphology and Phonology, with Special Attention to Optimality Theory: University of California, Berkeley dissertation.

  • Ott, Dennis. 2011. Diminutive-formation in German. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 14(1). 1–46.

  • Padgett, Jaye. 2010. Russian consonant-vowel interactions and derivational opacity. In Wayles Browne, Adam Cooper, Alison Fisher, Esra Kesici, Nikola Predolac & Draga Zec (eds.), Proceedings of FASL 18, 352–381. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publications.

  • Pater, Joe. 1999. Austronesian nasal substitution and other NC effects. In René Kager, Harry & Wim Zonneveld (eds.), The prosody-morphology interface, 310–343. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Pater, Joe. 2000. Nonuniformity in English secondary stress: The role of ranked and lexically specific constraints. Phonology 17(2). 237–274.

  • Pater, Joe. 2006. The locus of exceptionality: Morpheme-specific phonology as constraint indexation. In Leah Bateman, Michael O’Keefe, Ehren Reilly & Adam Werle (eds.), Papers in Optimality Theory III, 259–296. Amherst, MA: GLSA.

  • Pesetsky, David. 2013. Russian case morphology and the syntactic categories. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Petek, Bojan, Rastislav Sustarsic & Smiljana Komar. 1996. An acoustic analysis of contemporary vowels of the standard Slovenian language. In Proceedings of the fourth international conference on spoken language, vol. 1 ICSLP 96, 133–136. IEEE.

  • Pinker, Steven & Alan Prince. 1988. On language and connectionism: Analysis of a parallel distributed processing model of language acquisition. Cognition 28(1). 73–193.

  • Polivanova, Anna K. 1967. Obrazovanie umen’shitel’nyx suschestvitel’nyx muzhskogo roda. In Russkij jazyk v natsional’noj shkole. Reprinted in Anna K. Polivanova, 2008. Obscheee russkoe jazykoznanie: Izbrannye raboty, vol. 4, 8–22. Moscow: RGGU.

  • Poser, William. 1984. The Phonetics and Phonology of Tone and Intonation in Japanese. Cambridge, MA: MIT dissertation.

  • Potts, Christopher, Joe Pater, Karen Jesney, Rajesh Bhatt & Michael Becker. 2010. Harmonic Grammar with Linear Programming. Phonology 27(1). 1–41.

  • Potts, Christopher & Geoffrey Pullum. 2002. Model theory and the content of OT constraints. Phonology 19(3). 361–393.

  • Prasada, S. & Steven Pinker. 1993. Generalisation of regular and irregular morphological patterns. Language and cognitive processes 8(1). 1–56.

  • Prince, Alan. 1983. Relating to the grid. Linguistic Inquiry 14(1). 19–100.

  • Prince, Alan & Paul Smolensky. 1993/2004. Optimality Theory: Constraint interaction in generative grammar. Malden, MA & Oxford: Blackwell. Available as ROA-537 on the Rutgers Optimality Archive,

  • Revithiadou, Anthi. 1999. Headmost accent wins: Head dominance and ideal prosodic form in lexical accent systems. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.

  • Selkirk, Elisabeth. 1982. The Syntax of Words. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Selkirk, Elisabeth. 1995. The prosodic structure of function words. In Jill Beckman, Laura Walsh Dickey & Suzanne Urbanczyk (eds.), University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers: Papers in Optimality Theory, 439–470. Amherst, MA: GLSA Publications.

  • Smith, Jennifer. 2000. Noun faithfulness and accent in Fukuoka Japanese. In Sonya Bird, Andrew Carnie, Jason Haugen & Peter Norquest (eds.), The proceedings of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) 18, 519–531. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

  • Smolensky, Paul & Géraldine Legendre. 2006. The harmonic mind: From neural computation to Optimality-Theoretic grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Solomyak, Olla & Alec Marantz. 2010. Evidence for early morphological decomposition in visual word recognition. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 22(9). 2042–2057.

  • Steriade, Donca. 1999. Alternatives to syllable-based accounts of consonantal phonotactics. In Osamu Fujimura, Brian Joseph & B. Palek (eds.), Proceedings of the 1998 linguistics and phonetics conference, 205–242. Prague: Karolinum Press.

  • Steriopolo, Olga. 2007. Jer vowels in Russian prepositions. In Ulyana Savchenko Richard Compton, Magdalena Goledzinowska (ed.), Formal approaches to Slavic linguistics (FASL). The Toronto meeting 2006, 365–385. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publications.

  • Steriopolo, Olga. 2008. Form and function of expressive morphology: A case study of Russian. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia dissertation.

  • Timberlake, Alan. 2004. A reference grammar of Russian. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Urbanczyk, Suzanne. 2006. Reduplicative Form and the Root-Affix Asymmetry. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 24(1). 179–240.

  • Wiltschko, Martina. 2006. Why should diminutives count? In Hans Broekhuis, Norbert Corver, Riny Huybregts, Ursula Kleinhenz & Jan Koster (eds.), Organizing Grammar. Linguistic Studies in Honor of Henk van Riemsdijk, vol. 86 Studies in generative grammar, 669–679. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Zaliznjak, Andrej Anatoljevich. 1977. Grammatičeskij slovar’ russkogo jazyka. [A grammatical dictionary of the Russian language]. Moscow: Russkij Jazyk.

  • Zaliznjak, Andrej Anatoljevich. 1985. Ot praslavjanskoj akcentuacii k russkoj. [From Proto-Slavic to Russian accentuation.]. Moscow: Nauka.

  • Zec, Draga. 1995. Sonority constraints on syllable structure. Phonology 12(1). 85–129.

  • Zuraw, Kie. 2000. Patterned exceptions in phonology. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA dissertation.

  • Zwicky, Arnold M. 1985. Heads. Journal of Linguistics 21(1). 1–29.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Journal + Issues

The Linguistic Review publishes high-quality papers in syntax, semantics, phonology and morphology within a framework of Generative Grammar and related disciplines, as well as critical discussions of theoretical linguistics as a branch of cognitive psychology. The journal welcomes reviews of important new monographs in these areas, dissertation abstracts and letters to the editor.