Irreducible parallelism in phonology

Evidence for lookahead from Mohawk, Maragoli, Sino-Japanese, and Lithuanian

Abstract

McCarthy (2013) asks whether there are phonological systems necessitating irreducible parallelism in grammar—systems requiring that multiple changes to the input apply in parallel, in a single derivational step. Such systems would necessitate a framework with lookahead: the ability to see from a given derivational step the results of applying multiple changes to its input. This article makes the following claims: (i) a variety of systems across languages, involving a diverse array of processes, require lookahead; (ii) these systems share the same underlying character, despite superficial differences. Our evidence comes primarily from the distribution of stress, lengthening, and epenthesis in Mohawk; reduplication and hiatus repair in Maragoli; syncope and gemination in Sino-Japanese; and assimilation and epenthesis in Lithuanian. All these systems involve what we call a COMPARISON OF PROCEDURES. To best satisfy constraints, the grammar applies one change followed by another, unless the final result is dispreferred. In such a case, the grammar instead applies a different series of changes. We make the argument for lookahead in grammar by comparing the ability of two frameworks—Parallel Optimality Theory and Harmonic Serialism—to capture these systems. We show that Parallel OT captures them naturally, as it permits lookahead and therefore allows the grammar to compare entire procedures. HS, on the other hand, is challenged by them, as it forbids lookahead and thus does not permit the grammar to compare entire procedures unless the changes involved are specified to apply in a single derivational step. That the problem arises in connection with a diverse array of processes suggests that lookahead is not merely the reflex of a single exceptional phenomenon, but rather is a property of the grammar as a whole.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See analyses of Mohawk stress in Michelson (1988, 1989), Potter (1994), Ikawa (1995), Piggott (1995), Hagstrom (1997), Rowicka (1998), Alderete (1999), Rawlins (2006), Houghton (2013), and Elfner (2016). We use the (1988) transcription system, but follow Michelson (1989), Rawlins (2006), and Elfner (2016) in leaving out allophonic processes like /h/ insertion before /rh/. [ʌ] and [u] are front and back nasal vowels, respectively, [y] a palatal glide, and [ts] an affricate.

  2. 2.

    We note that [e] does not break up [Cy] and [kw] sequences, despite them violating syllable contact when syllabified apart. In addition, [khy] is cited as a permitted word-initial CCC cluster (as in (6a)), and so epenthesis does not apply to break it up (Michelson 1988). We ultimately leave the extended analysis of Mohawk phonotactics to future research.

  3. 3.

    A reviewer asks if epenthesis could be reanalyzed as deletion. For example, we could say that the underlying form of the 1P morpheme is /wake/, surfacing faithfully in (/wake-nyak-s/, [wa.ˈken.yaks]) (9a) but undergoing hiatus-avoiding deletion in (/wake-aruʔtat-u/, [wa.ka.ruʔ.ˈtaː.tu]) (6b). This analysis is untenable, as it fails to resolve why [e] deletes even in non-hiatus-environments, where deletion would gratuitously violate syllable structure constraints. If /wake/ were underlying, for example, it would be difficult to explain why the final vowel deletes in e.g. [te.wak.ˈten.yu], *[te.wa.ke.ˈten.yu] (5c), in which no adjacent vowel can motivate hiatus repair. See Michelson (1988) for the complete argument.

  4. 4.

    Bennett (2012, 2017) and Houghton (2013) present similar analyses of moraic-trochaic languages (Prince 1990; Hayes 1995) in terms of the optimal choice between (ˈH) and (ˈL.L) in different environments.

  5. 5.

    We say ‘Step 1’ here for expository ease—in fact, we assume that epenthesis applied in a previous step. In Sect. 2.5, we consider an HS-based analysis of Mohawk that abandons the assumption that epenthesis precedes stress.

  6. 6.

    In order to properly assign violations to long epenthetic vowels, we assume that DepVː can compare the outputs of intermediate mappings to the underlying form. Otherwise, the analysis has no chance of succeeding. See Hauser et al. (2016) for a defense of faithfulness constraints in HS that compare outputs to underlying forms.

  7. 7.

    Though we do not treat the qualities of the different epenthetic vowels in our analysis, we follow Rawlins (2006) in attributing the difference in quality between [e] & [a] is related to the latter’s appearance at these boundaries. See Rawlins (2006) for an analysis of these facts.

  8. 8.

    Note that *Non-HdFt/a must make the decision between (40a) and (40b), not Iamb, because AlignR must rank above Iamb to derive the choice of (ˈL.L) over antepenult (ˈH) when [e] occupies an open penult ([(ˈte.ke).riks], *[(ˈteː).ke.riks]).

  9. 9.

    We refer the reader to Rawlins (2006:32–36) for arguments against Alderete’s (1999) Parallel OT analysis of Mohawk based on HeadDep, and a defense of the approach we outline above, based on the avoidance of long epenthetic vowels. Data that challenge the HeadDep approach for Mohawk in particular involve both [e]-epenthesis (Rawlins 2006:32–33) and minimal word augmentation (Rawlins 2006:36 and Adler 2016:21–22). As it pertains to the latter, for example, avoidance of long epenthetic vowels explains why we see multiple epenthesis, rather than insertion of a long vowel, to resolve monosyllabism (e.g., /s-r-iht-Ø/ → [(ˈi.se)riht], *[(ˈse:)riht] 2A-cook-IMP). HeadDep cannot distinguish between these two alternatives (nor can even a tweaked version of HeadDep targeting open syllables exclusively, as a reviewer brings up). The analysis we adopt can capture the effects without appealing to this constraint. See Elfner (2016:263–265) for other arguments against HeadDep for the analysis of stress-epenthesis interactions.

  10. 10.

    In hiatus repairs in the language, the surviving vowel undergoes compensatory lengthening unless it is word-final. In the latter case, lengthening is blocked (e.g., (/vi-a/, [vja]) = agr8-of). In the data presented below, the vowel surviving hiatus repair is always final, so compensatory lengthening will play no role in the following discussion.

  11. 11.

    Tarok (Robinson 1976), Kalanga (Mathangwane and Hyman 1999), and Arosi (Lynch and Horoi 2002) also use reduplication to mark possessive categories.

  12. 12.

    Prior investigators have enforced reduplicant heaviness either with a constraint that forces it to be heavy, or by specifying that the reduplicant is underlyingly heavy (see Hayes and Abad 1989 and McCarthy et al. 2012b on heavy reduplication in Ilokano, and Blevins 1996 on heavy reduplication in Mokilese—these investigators take one or the other approach). We are agnostic to which analytical choice is superior here, simply taking the latter approach. A merely apparent third alternative approach is to say that length is a remnant of compensatory lengthening following hiatus repair in the base. For example, we could envision the following schematic derivation for [jɔː-j-ɔ]: red-e-ɔ → red-j-ɔː (glide formation with compensatory lengthening) → jɔː-j-ɔː (copying) → jɔː-j-ɔ (final vowel shortening). But [viː-vj-ɔ] and like forms deriving from Ci- prefixes suggest this cannot be the right approach: the copy vowel is long, and yet does not derive from a base vowel that was lengthened at any point in the derivation.

  13. 13.

    The upcoming OT analysis sets aside certain minor complications in these data. In (/red-o-ɔ/, [wɔː-v-ɔ]), the base prefix undergoes vowel hardening, surfacing as [v] between vowels instead of [w], which can be accounted for with a constraint militating against certain [VwV] sequences (see Zymet 2018 for the analysis). In forms where a Co-prefix was copied (e.g., /red-go-ɔ/, [guː-gw-ɔ]), the reduplicant vowel always surfaces as high, even if the prefix is underlyingly mid. This can be accounted for with a constraint requiring the reduplicant vowel to match its corresponding stem glide for height (as in [g\(_{\mathbf{1}}\)-g\(\mathbf{w}_{\mathbf{1}}\)-ɔ], *[g\(_{\mathbf{1}}\)-g\(\mathbf{w}_{\mathbf{1}}\)-ɔ]; again, see Zymet 2018 for an analysis), or with a constraint against mid-tense vowels whose activity is only observed in environments that are not constrained by input-output faithfulness.

  14. 14.

    Note that the interaction provides yet more evidence for the emergence of the unmarked (McCarthy and Prince 1994), in the sense that onsetless syllables and consonant-glide onsets are allowed in stems but avoided in reduplicants (cf. Steriade 1988, Hayes and Abad 1989 on onset-skipping).

  15. 15.

    Though Onset would work just as well for our purposes, see Orie and Pulleyblank (1998) for an argument for NoHiatus in particular for handling hiatus repairs.

  16. 16.

    Furthermore, candidates such as *[v1ɔː3-v1j23] can be eliminated by a high-ranking constraint enforcing BR-contiguity (McCarthy and Prince 1995).

  17. 17.

    See Pająk and Baković (2010) for a similar pattern in Polish.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Eric Baković, Ryan Bennett, Dustin Bowers, Paul de Lacy, Eleanor Glewwe, Bruce Hayes, Mwabeni Indire, Junko Ito, Nick Kalivoda, Hope McManus, Nazarré Merchant, Armin Mester, Alan Prince, Hannah Sarvasy, Brian Smith, Bruce Tesar, Kie Zuraw, Erik Zyman, and audiences at NELS47, AMP2016, and the UCSC Phonology Research Weekend for invaluable input. We single out Eric Baković for encouraging the coauthors to collaborate on this paper. Finally, we are grateful to Mwabeni Indire, for sharing the Maragoli language with us.

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Adler, J., Zymet, J. Irreducible parallelism in phonology. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-020-09478-8

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Keywords

  • Lookahead
  • Parallelism
  • Optimality Theory
  • Harmonic Serialism
  • Mohawk
  • Maragoli