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Canonical Forms in Prosodic Morphology$
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Laura J. Downing

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199286393

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199286393.001.0001

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The Role of Phonology in Defining Canonical Form in MBT

The Role of Phonology in Defining Canonical Form in MBT

(p.201) 4 The Role of Phonology in Defining Canonical Form in MBT
Canonical Forms in Prosodic Morphology

Laura J. Downing (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The MBT approach developed in Chapter 3 defines the optimal minimal Root as a branching monosyllable. However, it is not difficult to find Roots which are either larger or smaller than this. The most common minimal word size is actually a non-branching CV syllable, even though a Root optimally branches. Roots in Diyari and other Australian languages are minimally disyllabic, rather than a branching monosyllable. This chapter shows that many of these exceptions can be straightforwardly accounted for in the MBT approach through the standard OT technique of variable constraint ranking. Syllable phonotactics can mask the morphologically-motivated branching requirements if phonotactic constraints are highly ranked. This can lead to ambiguity in the category of the canonical morpheme (is a non-branching monosyllable a Root? An Affix?), motivating further diachronic reduction.

Keywords:   word minimality, syllable phonotactics, Root, Affix, branching constraint, category ambiguity

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