Why Lenition Interactions Are Typically Counter-Feeding

  • Haike JacobsEmail author
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 95)


Typologically, the interaction between voicing and spirantization processes applies predominantly in a counter-feeding fashion, and, more rarely in a feeding one. After providing some relevant data from contemporary Romance varieties that illustrate this state of affairs, this paper first discusses why this is problematic for previous theoretical analyses, both from a rule-based and from a constraint-based perspective of phonology. A novel way of evaluating constraints will be proposed which locally evaluates only output candidates that have undergone one single change to satisfy the relevant markedness constraint at hand. On the one hand, this allows to describe both types of interaction (feeding and counter-feeding) which thus far was quite problematic for OT. On the other hand, we will illustrate that, in perception, this makes a feeding interaction computationally more complicated than a counter-feeding one, which is, we claim, the reason for the typological unmarkedness of the counter-feeding interaction between voicing and spirantization.


Counter-feeding opacity Contrast maintenance Serial optimality theory Local constraint evaluation Perception of voicing and spirantization Harmonic Serialism Optimality theory with candidate chains 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Language StudiesRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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