Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 1–42 | Cite as

Morphologically conditioned phonological alternations

  • Arto Anttila


Alternations that are partly phonologically, partlymorphologically conditioned are a central problem in phonologicaltheory. In Optimality Theory, two types of solutions have beenproposed: morphologically specialized phonological constraints(interface constraints) and different constraint rankings fordifferent morphological categories (cophonologies). This paperpresents empirical evidence that distinguishes between these twohypotheses. Stem-final vowel alternations in Finnish are governed by amixed set of conditions that range from purely phonological tomorphological and lexical, from iron-clad exceptionless regularitiesto quantitative tendencies. Using a standard dictionary as the database, we show that phonological conditioning plays the dominant role,but in cases where phonology underdetermines the output, morphologicalconditioning may emerge. We then show that partial ordering ofconstraints, commonly used to model variation, extends tomorphological conditioning as well. The partial ordering model is arestrictive version of the cophonology model, which is thus supported.


Artificial Intelligence Empirical Evidence Dominant Role Optimality Theory Central Problem 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arto Anttila
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Modern Foreign LanguagesLiteratures Boston UniversityBostonUSA

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