Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Paradigmatic Contrast in Polish

Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Paradigmatic Contrast in Polish

Article excerpt

Abstract. This paper examines allomorph distribution in the locative of masculine and neuter nouns in Polish. Locative allomorph distribution is opaque and is accounted for in terms of preserving contrast. The key idea is that the different allomorphs of the locative suffix keep apart forms that the regular phonology would otherwise neutralize. This contributes to the body of work on morphological opacity and the role for paradigmatic contrast.

1. Introduction

The study of allomorphy has received considerable attention in Optimality Theory (OT, Prince and Smolensky 1993). There is a research program in OT which accounts for allomorphy in terms of the well-formedness of the output. Allomorph distribution has been shown to be determined by phonological factors, such as stress (Antilla 1997, Drachman et al. 1995, Kager 1996, Mester 1994), syllable structure (Bonet 2004, Hargus and Tuttle 1997, Lubowicz et al. 2006, Mascaro 1996, McCarthy and Prince 1993, Prince and Smolensky 1993, Rubach and Booij 2001, Tranel 1996, 1998), and phonotactics (Antilla 2002, Bermudez-Otero 2006, Oostendorp 1998, Yip 2004). (1)

Allomorphy that cannot be explained by the properties of the output (Kiparsky 1997, Oostendorp 1998), which I will call opaque allomorphy, seemingly presents a problem for this line of research. This article proposes a solution to opaque allomorphy in this research program in terms of preserving contrast. For related approaches, see Gafos and Ralli (2002), Kenstowicz (2005), Kurisu (1998), McCarthy (2005), Rebrus and Torkenczy (2005), Steriade (1997, 2000), and Urbanczyk (1998, 1999).

This article investigates the role of contrast in allomorph selection. The case study is locative allomorphy of masculine and neuter nouns in Polish (Feldstein and Franks 2002, Grzegorczykowa et al. 1984, Gussmann 1980, Jaworski 1986, Rubach 1984, Szober 1969, among others). It is argued that the distribution of the locative allomorphs is opaque and can be determined by paradigmatic contrast. The key idea is that the different allomorphs of the locative suffix preserve contrasts that would be otherwise neutralized on the surface due to palatalization. The analysis is couched within the framework of Contrast Preservation Theory (Lubowicz 2003, 2004), which is extended to the area of allomorphy. This study contributes to our understanding of morphological opacity and the role for contrast. (2)

The rest of this article is organized as follows. Section 2 describes the problem. Section 3 introduces the framework. Section 4 presents the solution. Section 5 discusses typological predictions of the proposal and compares it with alternatives. Finally, section 6 is the conclusion.

2. Statement of the Problem

In Polish, there is a process of Coronal Palatalization (Gussmann 1980, Rubach 1984), by which alveolars and dentals turn into prepalatals before front vowels (see section 4). The following are examples of palatalization before the locative singular suffix [-e]. Below, I illustrate the alternations with the nominative singular and locative singular of masculine and neuter nouns in Polish. For the purposes of the presentation of the argument, I do not indicate final devoicing. I will be consistent with this throughout the paper. (3)

(1) Coronal Palatalization: /t d n s z/ [right arrow] [c dz n s z]/_e

                         nominative   locative sg.     gloss
                         sg.

t [right arrow] c        lis[t]       o lis[c] + e     'letter'
d [right arrow] dz   :   obia[d]      o obie[dz] + e   'dinner'
n [right arrow] n    :   ok[n] + o    o ok[n] + e      'window'
s [right arrow] s    :   bruda[s]     o bruda[s] + e   'dirty man
z [right arrow] z    :   lobu[z]      o lobu[z] + e    'troublemaker'

Interestingly, underlying prepalatals take the back high vowel [-u] suffix in the locative and not the front mid vowel [-e] suffix. Again, I show the examples in the nominative singular and the locative singular of masculine and neuter nouns. …

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