Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 August 2017
A computational notion of locality, based on forbidden substructures of a fixed size, is applied to autosegmental representations, and tone-association patterns are argued to be local. This is significant for phonological theory, for two reasons. First, this notion of locality provides for an explicit theory of tonal well-formedness that is superior to previous explanations in that it makes clear, restrictive typological predictions. Second, it provides a clear path for understanding how these patterns can be learned. A brief survey of major tone-association patterns shows that association generalisations which are edge-based (Mende and Hausa), quality-specific (Kukuya) or positional (Northern Karanga Shona) are all local in this way. This is contrasted with previous explanations of the typology, which require global reference to the directionality of association, and can thus overgenerate.
Portions of this material were presented at the Berkeley Phonology Phorum, the 2015 Annual Meeting on Phonology, the University of Pennsylvania Common Ground colloquium, the 2015 Northeast Computational Phonology Circle, the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America and a Rutgers University invited colloquium talk. I thank the audiences of these presentations, and am grateful for the comments, questions and insights of two anonymous reviewers, Jeff Heinz, Bill Idsardi, Thomas Graf, Kevin McMullin, Jim Rogers and the members of the University of Delaware Phonology and Phonetics and Computational Linguistics groups. This research was supported by a 2015–16 University of Delaware Dissertation Fellows award.