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Positional faithfulness drives laxness alternations in Slovenian

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 December 2020

Michael Becker*
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Peter Jurgec*
University of Toronto


We analyse the distribution of vowel laxness and stress alternations in Slovenian nouns (for example in the nominative and genitive forms of the masculine noun [ˈjɛzik ~ jeˈzika] ‘tongue’), showing that stress shifts away from mid lax vowels in initial syllables. A stress shift of this sort is predicted by positional faithfulness (Beckman 1997). We show that this prediction is correct, contra McCarthy (2007, 2010) and Jesney (2011). The productivity of the pattern is confirmed in a large-scale nonce-word task. Stress shift in Slovenian is a result of the markedness of mid lax vowels and, perhaps counterintuitively, faithfulness to laxness in initial stressed position.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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For their thoughtful comments and suggestions, we thank Christina Bethin, Maria Gouskova, Gaja Jarosz, Keren Rice, Adrian Stegovec, Matt Wolf, Draga Zec and the audiences of FASL 25 at Cornell and AMP 4 at the University of Southern California. We also thank Janko Petrovec for recording the stimuli and the anonymous participants in our studies who volunteered their time and effort. Finally, thanks to the Phonology reviewers and editors for their contributions towards improving this paper.

Online supplementary materials for this paper are available at


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