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Relational hierarchies in Optimality Theory: the case of syllable contact

  • Maria Gouskova (a1)

Abstract

A number of phonological laws require adjacent elements to stand a certain distance apart from each other on some prominence scale. For example, according to the Syllable Contact Law, the greater the sonority slope between the coda and the following onset, the better. Languages such as Faroese, Icelandic, Sidamo, Kazakh and Kirghiz select different thresholds for an acceptable sonority slope. This article proposes a theory for deriving hierarchies of relational constraints such as the Syllable Contact Law from prominence scales in the constraint set CON in Optimality Theory. The proposal is compared to two alternative approaches, non-hierarchical constraints and the local conjunction of constraint hierarchies, which are argued to make undesirable empirical and theoretical predictions.

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For valuable feedback on previous versions of this paper and related work, I would like to thank Paul de Lacy, Gunnar Ólafur Hansson, Eric Holt, Jessica Hughes, Shigeto Kawahara, John Kingston, John McCarthy, Steve Parker, Joe Pater and audiences at UMass Amherst, HUMDRUM 2001, CLS 37 and 38 and WCCFL 21. I would also like to thank four anonymous reviewers and an associate editor of the journal for their input, which has resulted in numerous improvements to the paper.

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Relational hierarchies in Optimality Theory: the case of syllable contact

  • Maria Gouskova (a1)

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