A Finite-State Approximation of Optimality Theory: The Case of Finnish Prosody

  • Lauri Karttunen
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4139)


This paper gives a finite-state formulation of two closely related descriptions of Finnish prosody proposed by Paul Kiparsky and Nine Elenbaas in the framework of optimality theory. In native Fin- nish words, the primary stress falls on the first syllable. Secondary stress generally falls on every second syllable. However, secondary stress skips a light syllable that is followed by a heavy syllable. Kiparsky and Elenbaas attempt to show that the ternary pattern arises from the interaction of universal metrical constraints.

This paper formalizes the Kiparsky and Elenbaas analyses using the parc/xrce regular expression calculus. It shows how output forms with syllabification, stress and metrical feet are constructed from unmarked input forms. The optimality constraints proposed by Kiparsky and Elenbaas are reformulated in finite-state terms using lenient composition. The formalization shows that both analyses fail for many types of words.


Optimality Theory Regular Expression Secondary Stress Output Candidate Short Vowel 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauri Karttunen
    • 1
  1. 1.Palo Alto Research CenterPalo AltoUSA

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