English Unmarked Reduplicants in Optimality Theory: Ragtag, powwow and riff-raff
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Place Markedness Hierarchy
This paper addresses issues regarding the constraint ranking for the unmarked English rhyming and ablaut reduplicants in Optimality Theory or OT (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004). By studying English reduplication in current use, we consider not only the formal rigor of OT in accounting for the most unmarked grammatical output, but also its weaknesses in accounting for the correct outputs with a varying degree of unmarkedness in terms of Place Markedness Hierarchy (PMH, hereafter) (Lombardi 2001). The constraint argument which we put forward is met with an expected success in accounting for the onset [t] in the rhyming reduplicant, but the grammatical outputs with the [p] and the [k] remain unaccounted for. The use of [w] for the rhyming reduplicative onset may be characterized as the unmarked form in terms of a composite notion of articulatory cost (Skaer 2005), which builds on Kirchner (1998; 2001)’s analysis of aperture. Additionally, Occam’s razor, coupled with the notion of articulatory cost, leads us to suggest an alternative constraint argument to Minkova (2002)’s approach to accounting for the use of [æ] in the most common English ablaut reduplicative words.
This paper builds directly on Kobayashi (2015) and two independent presentations given by the first author at the 2015 Joint International Conference held at Chugnam National University in South Korea on October 24th and the 16th Annual Conference of the French Phonology Conference at Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, France on June 27th, 2018.
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