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Donca Steriade

Donca Steriade is Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a classicist, training to become an Indo-Europeanist, when she first encountered generative linguistics and phonology at MIT. Her current work involves three classes of phonological problems:  the structure of units that the linguistic rhythm operates on and their uses in stress, meter and prosodic morphology; the effect of perceptual similarity on phonological processes; and the analysis of interactions between phonological operations and morpho-lexical structure, including phenomena like cyclic application, paradigm uniformity, morphomes and other types of stem syncretism.

 

Phonology and paradigm uniformity

Most phonological systems display certain patterns of similarity between lexically related words. These similarities are unexpected, in that the normal functioning of the phonology would predict more dissimilar pairs; they are directional, in that one form appears to be basic and others are derived from it; they can be recursive; and they frequently involve non-distinctive phonological properties (Steriade 2000), suggesting that they are relations between surface structures.  Thus the stress of English pairs like dísciplin and dísciplining is identical, 100 and 100-0. The latter deviates from the stress pattern of English simple words, where 000 strings are impossible. Virtually every language we know contains such similar sets. Children appear to anticipate their existence, even when the evidence available to them contradicts this expectation (Do 2018).

The analysis of these similarities varies, depending on the syntactic relations between the forms. When a similar pair involves nested forms, as with dísciplin-dísciplining, they are analyzed using the tools of cyclic phonology (Chomsky, Halle and Lukoff 1956) or, in OT, Base-Derivative correspondence and related ideas (Benua 1997). When this is not the case, as with uniform inflectional paradigms (Albright 2010, McCarthy 2005) or morphomes (Aronoff  1994; Steriade 2016) or other forms of stem syncretism (Steriade 2008; Steriade and Yanovich 2015), different and incompatible devices are invoked in their analysis, or no analysis is offered.

The question, then, is how the shared properties of such similar morpho-lexical sets can be given a unified account. The tutorial will illustrate the shared properties, will motivate one idea that leads to a generalized analysis, and will provide some experimental support for it. 

 

References

Albright, A. 2010. Base-driven leveling in Yiddish verb paradigms, Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 28: 475 http://web.mit.edu/albright/www/papers/Albright-LevelingInYiddishVerbs.pdf

Aronoff, M. 1994 Morphology by itself. LI Monograph, MIT Press.

Benua, L. 1997. Transderivational identity: Phonological relations between words . Ph.D. thesis. UMassAmherst. http://roa.rutgers.edu/files/259-0498/roa-259-benua-2.pdf

Chomsky, N, Halle, M., Lukoff, F. 1956, On accent and juncture in English. In Halle, M. et al. (eds.), For Roman Jakobson, 65-80. The Hague: Mouton.

Do, Y., 2018. Paradigm uniformity bias in the learning of Korean verbal inflections. 
Phonology, 35(4), pp.547-575. https://hub.hku.hk/handle/10722/267494

Kenstowicz, M. 2005. Paradigmatic Uniformity and Contrast. In Downing, L., Hall, T.A., Raffelsiefen, R. (eds.) Paradigms in Phonological Theory, OUP. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7849/afac3a3af96b0c0fe42dbd3b2a5c289b463c.pdf

McCarthy, J.J. 2001. Optimal Paradigms. In Downing, L., Hall, T.A., Raffelsiefen, R. (eds.) Paradigms in Phonological Theory. Oxford University Press 2005, pp. 170-210. https://scholarworks.umass.edu/linguist_faculty_pubs/55/

Steriade, D. 2000. Paradigm uniformity and the phonetics-phonology boundary. In Broe, M., Pierrehumbert, J. (eds.) Papers in laboratory phonology 5, pp.313-334. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/2495311_Paradigm_Uniformity_and_the_Phonetics-Phonology_Boundary

Steriade, D. 2008. A pseudo-cyclic effect in the Romanian declension. In Bachrach, A., Nevins, A. (eds.) Inflectional  Identity. Oxford University Press, pp. 313-361. http://lingphil.mit.edu/papers/steriade/Steriade2008Pseudocyclic.pdf

Steriade, D., Yanovich, I. 2015 Accentual allomorphs in East Slavic: an argument for inflection dependence. In Bonet, E., Lloret, M.R., Mascaró, J. (eds) Understanding Allomorphy, 254-314. http://lingphil.mit.edu/papers/steriade/Steriade&Yanovich2015.pdf

Steriade, D. 2016. The morphome vs. similarity-based syncretism: Latin t-stem derivatives. In Luis, A., Bermudez-Otero, R. (eds.) The morphome debate. Oxford University Press. http://lingphil.mit.edu/papers/steriade/Steriade2016%20-%203rd%20proof-Morphome.pdf

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