The Berkeley Phonetics & Phonology Forum ("Phorum") is a weekly talk and discussion series featuring presentations on all aspects of phonology and phonetics.
Come to our first Phorum of the year with a 5 minute (or less) Ph-related musing, question, or update on what you did this summer.
Grammars with weighted constraints predict the existence of ganging effects: cases where two constraints combine to overcome the effect of one competing constraint. This talk presents a case study of one such ganging effect in French, using it to argue for an analysis in MaxEnt Harmonic Grammar. The basic pattern is reported in Charette (1991), who shows that epenthesis occurs if and only if two conditions are met: (1) the epenthesis site is followed by exactly one syllable; (2) the epenthesis site is after a cluster. Although Charette reports a categorical pattern, for many speakers, the pattern is subject to variation. Using experimental data, I show that epenthesis is more likely when it meets one condition, and most likely when it meets both. This can be straightforwardly modeled in a theory of variation with weighted constraints, such as MaxEnt. The MaxEnt analysis also predicts that the constraints conditioning epenthesis should play a role whenever there is phonological variation. This is borne out in French: both constraints show independent effects in schwa deletion and phonotactics.
According to Selkirk’s (2011) “match theory”, the mapping of syntactic structure onto prosodic domains is universal. What this means is that if a language chooses to implement the relation between syntactic- or phrase-structure in the phonology, certain syntax-phonology relations should be predictable (and others not possible). This potentially produces asymmetries, as in Luganda, where a verb forms a tone phrase with what follows (e.g. an object, adjunct, right-dislocation), but not with what precedes (e.g. the subject, adverbial, left-dislocation). The purpose of my talk is to raise the question whether the phrasal tonology of Lusoga, the most closely related language to Luganda, is syntactically grounded—or is free to apply without respect to syntax. I begin by briefly outlining the situation in Luganda, and then turn to Lusoga. Although extremely closely related, the two languages are quite different in their implementation (Luganda) vs. non-implementation (Lusoga) of prosodic domains. While I provide an analysis that accounts for this difference, and which respects Selkirk’s claims, I also show that there is one head-dependent syntax-specific condition in both languages that does not so easily fall into line. I conclude with discussion of the typology of phonological phrasing in Bantu.