Tonal polarity and inflection allomorphy in Nuer
Siri Gjersøe
January 2023

This paper discusses the highly irregular suffix allomorphy observed in Nuer and identifies patterns with tonal polarity. In oblique case constructions, nouns can be inflected through suffixation or non-concatenative forms. I argue that the choice of these two allomorphs are connected with the underlying stem tones, which is revealed by tonal polarity: Toneless nouns tend to undergo non-concatenative inflection, and their stems are subject to tonal polarity, while L-toned nouns tend to get a suffix with a polar tone. In an OT analysis with an input allomorph set, I show that the choice of allomorphs is phonological-conditioned for these nouns. The main idea is that non-concatenative forms arise through so-called bidirectional defectiveness when both the stem and affix material are defective.
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Reference: lingbuzz/007082
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: tonal polarity, suffixation, inflection, allomorphy, ocp, nilotic, morphology, phonology
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