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Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

John Anderson 2 fronts

John Anderson 2 fronts apparent discrepancies in structure and tries to formulate a principled basis for them, and thus to sketch out some of the main limits to structural analogy. The concerns of §1 leave aside the question of the desirability or otherwise of such a radical attitude to contrastivity. Is it desirable to view phonological representations in this way? – as fundamentally organised in terms of the contrastive vs. the redundant? Such an approach is called into question by, for instance, Steriade’s (1995: 166) doubts concerning the principle of ‘lexical minimality’: ‘underlying representations must reduce to some minimum the phonological information needed to distinguish lexical items’ (1995: 114). However, she misleadingly associates the principle with ‘derivationality’. Her own ‘nonderivational’ account alludes, for instance, to whether or not ‘nasality … is allowed to associate underlyingly to Guaraní continuants’ (1995: 158); while the underspecified accounts invoked in what follows here involve ‘derivations’ only in the sense that some aspects of structure are predictable from others (which latter are ‘underlying’ in this sense), they are predictable. Moreover, if the contents of lexical entries do not maximise contrastivity, how is their content determined? How are they different from parts of utterances? I shall, however, make no attempt to address this issue here. What one can say of the envisaged programme of this paper is that it at least attempts not to be faint-hearted in pursuing what is contrastive. 1 Identifying contrastivity Let me begin by recalling the main point of Anderson (1987, 1994), the redundancy of many stipulations of linearity. This will lead us into a consideration of other aspects of phonological representation and their contrastive status. 1.1 The limits of linearity: sonority, markedness and beyond It is apparent that many of the linearity relations within syllables are not contrastive. This follows from the familiar fact that typically placement of segments is in accord with relative sonority, perceived inherent salience. Typically, salience within syllables declines from the centre towards the margins, with the centre being characterised by the presence of the most sonorous segment type, prototypically a vowel (cf. e.g. Blevins 1995: §2). In this way, once we know whether a consonantal segment precedes or follows the centre, we know what position it typically will occupy relative to other segments. In the unmarked case, relative sonority determines placement relative to the centre, as illustrated by the English monosyllable in (1): (1) clamp Linear placement in (1) is in accordance with some such partial hierarchy as (2): (2) sonority hierarchy 1 a. vowel < sonorant consonant < obstruent b. {|V|} {V;C} all others (wherein V is not more prominent than C) ‘

3 Structural analogy in language, and its limits as ‘having only V’ (that is the sense of the notation with verticals); and ‘;’ means ‘is more prominent than’, so that sonorant consonants contain a lesser proportion of C than V; but they contain a greater proportion of C than vowels. Each categorial representation is enclosed within curly brackets. Anderson & Ewen (1987) also interpret relative prominence as a (intra-segmental) manifestation of the dependency, or head-modifier, relation. (We return to this in §1.3.) The proportion of V vs. C present reflects relative sonority. I come back below (again in §1.3) to spell out the metric involved more precisely: in (2) it is rather transparent, given that with no other segment types than sonorants is V more prominent than C. Sequencing is based on primary categories, and simply reflects relative sonority plus orientation towards the centre. Let me try to spell this out a little more explicitly. 2 Firstly, however, it is important to emphasise that the contrastive representations proposed here are system-dependent: the representations reflect the dimensionality of the system. Representations for one system that are minimal in embodying only what is contrastive in that system will not suffice for a system with more oppositions. This means that sounds in different systems that are phonetically similar may have different representations in these different systems. The ‘same sound’ also may have different contrastive representations in different circumstances, given that, in the interests of maximising the expression of contrastivity, the description is polysystemic. This will become apparent as we proceed. The sequencing stipulations that have to be attributed in the lexicon to the segments in (1) reduce at most to those in (3.b); only they are contrastive: (3) a. a, k, l b. a + m, a + p ‘+’ indicates ‘precedes’, not necessarily strictly. The centre of the syllable is identified as the most sonorous element, /a/. If we assume that C(onsonant) + V(owel) is the unmarked sequence, we need to stipulate lexically only the marked sequencings, as in (3.b). The linearity relationships between /a/ and /k/ and /l/ – i.e. those in (3.a) – follow from (4): (4) unmarked syllable structure {C} + {|V|} So, from invocation of (4) we get (5.a): (5) a. k + a, l + a b. k + l (+ a), (a +) m + p c. k + l + a + m + p (4) thus determines the basic sequence in syllables. The linearisation relative to each other of the consonants in both pre- and post-centre position is given by sonority: the less sonorous segment is further from the centre; we get both sets of orderings in (5.b) from sonority sequencing, in accordance with (2). (5.c) expresses the overall linearity relations, most of which are derivative of unmarked syllable structure and sonority: cf. (3). Such an approach to intrasyllabic linearity as I have outlined is discussed in Anderson (1994: §2). Let us refer to it as the partial non-sequencing approach to intrasyllabic lexical content. Anderson (1987: 212-8), however, suggests a still more radical approach to this linearity (see too Anderson et al. 1985: 213-4), which eliminates it entirely from

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