When bases compete: a voting model of Lexical Conservatism
Canaan Breiss
April 2023

This paper examines the interaction of the phonological grammar and the lexicon through the lens of Lexical Conservatism. This is a theory that addresses how the distribution of bases (existing stem allomorphs in a morphological paradigm) influence the way those paradigms accommodate novel members. The idea is that a phonological alternation only applies to novel words if there is an existing base form present elsewhere in the paradigm that offers the needed phonological material. Thus compénsable, for "able to be compensated", undergoes stress shift (that is, *cómpensable) because the existing word compénsatory contains the compéns- allomorph. In contrast, *inúndable, for "able to be inundated" is judged worse than ínundable, since there is no existing base that can provide the stressed vowel (there is no form in *inúnd-). Using experimental data from English and Mexican Spanish, I demonstrate that this dependency between paradigm structure and phonological process application generalizes to entirely novel words in a probabilistic manner. Further, contrary to previous accounts (Steriade 1997, Steriade & Stanton 2020), I find that all stem allomorphs in a paradigm play a role in determining the form of the novel word, rather than only those that could reduce the markedness of the novel form. I propose a novel grammatical model where all Bases in a lexical entry vote on the realization of the novel form, which is cross-cut by phonological markedness. Comments welcome!
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006652
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted
keywords: lexical conservatism, word-formation, probabilistic phonology, lexicon-phonology interaction, phonology
previous versions: v2 [June 2022]
v1 [June 2022]
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