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Allomorphy and the question of abstractness: evidence from German

  • A model of grammar needs to reconcile the undesirability inherent to allomorphy, the apparent extra burden on learning and memory, with its occurrence and possible stability. OT approaches this task by positing an anti-allomorphy constraint, henceforth referred to as "OO-correspondence", which requires leveling (i.e. sameness of sound structure) in related word forms (Benua 1997). The occurrence of allomorphy then indicates crucial domination of OO-correspondence by other constraints. To assess the adequacy of this proposal it is necessary to establish the level of abstractness at which OO-correspondence applies and to examine the consequences of this decision for ranking order. While proponents of OT tacitly assume the level in question to be rather concrete, the notion of allomorphy as originally envisioned in Structuralism was defined by distinctness at a more abstract level referred to as "phonemic" (Harris 1942; Nida 1944). The basic intuition here is that the defining property of subphonemic sound properties, their conditionedness by context, entails that whatever burden they put on learning and memory is of a fundamentally different nature than that entailed by phonemic distinctness. The evidence from German supports that intuition in that leveling can be shown to target phonemic sound structure to the exclusion of subphonemic properties. Allomorphy, defined by phonemic alterna-tion, tends to serve phonological optimization in closed class items (function words, affixes) while serving to express morphological distinctions in open class items. The key to demonstrating the correlations in question lies in the discernment of phonemic structure, which is therefore at the core of the article.

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Author:Renate Raffelsiefen
Parent Title (English):Morphology
Publisher:Heidelberg u.a.
Place of publication:Springer
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2016
Date of Publication (online):2016/08/10
Tag:Abstractness; Allomorphy; German; OO-correspondence; Phonemic level
GND Keyword:Allomorph; Deutsch; Phonologie
Edition:First online
First Page:235
Last Page:267
Dieser Beitrag ist aus urheberrechtlichen Gründen nicht frei zugänglich.
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11525-016-9289-0
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 430 Deutsch
Open Access?:nein
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt