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The typological effects of ABC constraint definitions

  • Wm. G. Bennett (a1) and Natalie DelBusso (a2)

Recent work under the theoretical banner of Agreement by Correspondence (ABC) has produced a variety of different – and sometimes contradictory – formulations of the constraints central to this framework. In OT, the effects of such definitional choices come out in the factorial typologies they predict. Yet knowing what languages a theoretical system derives is insufficient unless we know why it does so. This requires analysis of the internal ranking structures of the typology itself. This paper compares the typologies produced under different proposed modifications to the main ABC constraints. We analyse the typologies in Property Theory, a theory of typological organisation in OT. Our analyses show that all variations have a common core structure, and that differences in their factorial typologies reduce to differences in how this common structure expands and iterates for different features. This allows for precise delineation of how and why different ABC constraint definitions affect typologies.

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For valuable input on earlier stages of this work, we give thanks to three anonymous reviewers and the associate editor, whose feedback greatly improved the exposition of the paper, as well as Alan Prince, Gunnar Hansson, Stephanie Shih, Eric Baković, Luca Iacoponi and audiences at NELS, AMP, UC Santa Cruz and Rutgers. Portions of the work were supported by grants from the American Philosophical Society and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF grant 104103 [any opinion, finding and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the authors and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard].)

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