The theory of Prosodic Morphology (PM) addresses a range of empirical problems lying at the phonology-morphology interface: reduplication, infixation, root-and-pattern morphology, and canonical shape requirements (such as word minimality). Its goal is to explain the properties of these phenomena in terms of general, independently motivated principles of morphology, of phonology, and of their interface. If the enterprise is fully successful, then these principles alone will suffice, and there will be no PM-specific principles or apparatus lurking anywhere in linguistic theory. Put in this way, the goal of PM is the same as the rest of linguistic theory: to achieve greater empirical coverage and deeper explanation with fewer resources – in the happiest case, with no resources at all that are specific to the domain under investigation.
This program was initiated by identifying templates with prosodic categories, eliminating the freedom to stipulate the form of templates independent of the theory of prosodic forms. This is the Prosodic Morphology Hypothesis of McCarthy and Prince (1986). The successor to the Prosodic Morphology Hypothesis is Generalized Template Theory (McCarthy and Prince 1994a, b), which carries the explanatory goals of PM up to the next level: the elimination of templates per se in favor of widely applicable constraints on prosody, morphology, and their interface. In this view, typical templatic categories like the “Minimal Word” are given no independent status, but rather emerge in reduplicative contexts through appropriate ranking of constraints on foot parsing and grammar → prosody mapping (see section 4.3 below for discussion and illustration).
Another line of development in PM has been the study of infixation and related phenomena.
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