Speaker Series: Andrea Calabrese

Andrea Calabrese of University of Connecticut will be giving a talk (abstract below).


The talk will be in the IRCS Conference Room at 3:30pm and will be followed by the GradLingS reception. You must be over 21 and possess a valid ID to attend the second event.


Morphologized metaphonic alternations in Italian dialects: 
On morphophonology and the architecture of grammar

Many Italian dialects are characterized, at least historically, by a process in which stressed stem vowels are raised, diphthongized or changed in other ways before final high vowels. This process is traditionally referred to as metaphony. In a large subgroup of these dialects, metaphony has become opaque due to the unrecoverable reduction or loss of the final vowels. Since final high vowels were the exponents of certain morphological contexts (e.g. the masculine of nouns/adjectives of the II class, the plural of nouns/adjectives of the III class, 2S forms of verbs), after their loss, the metaphonic changes became associated with these morphological contexts.

In this way, metaphony became a phonological process conditioned by morphological features, a morpho-phonological process (see Maiden (1991) for discussion).

My presentation deals with the issue of how to treat morphophonological metaphony, and in general morphophonological processes. The treatment of morphophonology is an old problem of linguistic theory since the beginning of the discipline (see Kruszewski (1881). Badouin (1895), Trubetzkoy (1929, 1931), Martinet (1965), Chomsky and Halle (1968) , Kiparsky (1965, 1971, 1982), Hooper (1979), Hudson (1975), Lieber (1981), Dressler (1985), a. o). In recent times, there has been a resurgence of interest in morphophonological processes (see Bermudez-Otero (2012, 2014), Bonet and Harbour (2012), Bye (2007) Bye and Svenonius (2012), Paster (2006), Mascaro (2007), a.o.) due—in my opinion—to the inability of Classical Optimality Theory to account for them in an adequate manner.

Leaving aside Cophonology Theory (Inkelas and Zoll 2010) and morpheme-indexed constraints (Pater 2000, 2010) (see Bermudez-Otero (2012 for a critical assessment), possible solutions to the issue of how to treat morphophonology in OT have included resorting to floating features (Bye and Svenonius 2012) or to memorized stem alternants (suppletion) (Bermudez-Otero 2012), in conjunction with fancy faithfulness constraints needed to control the implementation of these devices in an OT framework.

In this presentation, I will show that floating features and memorized (suppletive) stem alternants are unable to deal with morphophonological metaphony. I will also argue against faithfulness constraints: they are fundamentally “unconstrained”.

Morpho-phonological metaphony is instead simply and adequately accounted for by morpho-phonological rules operating on a basic (and abstract) forms of the morpheme exponents, as in Distributed Morphology (Halle and Marantz 1993, Embick 2010, Bobaljik 2012).

The status of morpho-phonological rules in the constraint-and-repair model of Calabrese (2005) will also be examined.

Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 3:30pm - 6:00pm
IRCS Conference Room