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University of Tromsø. Faculty of Humanities.

Master’s Program in Theoretical Linguistics

HIF-3022: Phonology 1


Candidate number: 7

1. Analysis 1. Segmental Phonology in Optimality Theory………………………...……3

1.2. Exercise 1. OT analysis of the English plural suffix………………………….3
1.3. Exercise 2. OT account for palatalization in Chinese…………………….…..7

2. Analysis 2. Syllable structure and stress (1).…………………………………………11

2.1. Exercise 1. Definite marker in Maltese: an OT account………………….….11
2.2. Exercise 2. French high vowels syllabification……………………………...17

3. Analysis 3. Syllable structure and stress (2)………………………………………….19

3.1. Exercise 1. Quantity sensitivity in Czech……………………………………19

4. Synopsis. Tone………………………………………………………………………….25

5. Final term paper “Consonant clusters in the structure of a Russian syllable: evidence
from a language game”…………………………………………………………………29 –

HIF-3022 Phonology. Homework Assignment # 2

Segmental Phonology in Optimality Theory
Candidate number: 7

Exercise 1. OT analysis of the English plural suffix.

I assume that the underlying representation for the English plural suffix is /z/, which can be
realized on the surface as
 [z] after voiced coda,
 [s] after voiceless coda as a result of progressive voice assimilation,
 [iz] with an epenthetic vowel in order to avoid adjacency with a consonants like [z],
[s], or [ʃ] that are similar in their manner specification and place of articulation.

In order to account for these data in terms of OT, we need to provide a ranking of relevant
constraints that would allow the right candidate to win, while the wrong candidates would be
ruled out.

Faithfulness constraint IO-IDENT(voice) and Markedness constraint AGREE (voice) are in
conflict. In order to capture progressive voice assimilation as in ha[ts], Markedness constraint
should have priority over Faithfulness constraint:

AGREE (voice) >> IO-IDENT (voice)

This ranking is illustrated in Tableau 1:

Tableau 1.
/hat-z/ AGREE (voice) IO-IDENT (voice)
☞ha[ts] *
ha[tz] *!

However, as Tableau 2 below shows, these two constraints are not sufficient enough to rule
out a candidate like ha[dz] which is a result of regressive voice assimilation.

Tableau 2.
/hat-z/ AGREE (voice) IO-IDENT (voice)
☞ha[ts] *
ha[dz] *

In order to rule out the candidate ha[dz], we need an additional constraint. From the given list
of constraints only VOP which militates voiced obstruents on the surface can play a crucial

role to rule out ha[dz]. However, in order not to exclude do[gz] with its voiced obstruents as a
losing candidate for /dog-z/ we should rank this Markedness constraint very low:

AGREE (voice) >> IO-IDENT (voice) >> VOP

This ranking is illustrated in Tableaux 3 and 4:

Tableau 3.
/hat-z/ AGREE (voice) IO-IDENT (voice) VOP
☞ha[ts] *
ha[dz] * *!*

Tableau 4.
/dog-z/ AGREE (voice) IO-IDENT (voice) VOP
☞do[gz] ***
do[ks] *!* *

So far, we have captured the surface results of assimilation. It is also important that too large
degree of similarity in adjacent segments is not welcome in English, so that candidates like
bu[ss] for /bus-z/ must be ruled out. This can be done with a Markedness constraint OCP.

In case if English faces a prohibited cluster of two segments like ss, sz, or ʃs, the solution it
takes is not deletion or fusion but an epenthesis. In other words, consonant deletion for this
particular case is not allowed, while epenthesis is strongly recommended. For this sake, IO-
MAX should be ranked over IO-DEP:


Tableau 5 shows that the candidates with epenthesis are more optimal than the candidate with
deletion because they have less serious violations on their account. This is particularly
important because one of them should be the winner.

Tableau 5.
/bus-z/ IO-MAX IO-DEP
bu[sɪz] *
bu[sɪs] *
bu[z] *!

However, it is evident from the Tableau 6 that candidates without epenthesis in sz consonant
cluster appear to be more harmonic and optimal for they violate none of these two constraints:

Tableau 6.
/bus-z/ IO-MAX IO-DEP
☞bu[sɪz] *
bu[sɪs] *
bu[z] *!

Candidates bu[sz] and bu[ss] violate neither IO-MAX nor IO-DEP. However, they do not satisfy
OCP. In this light, in order to rule them out we should rank OCP higher then IO-DEP:


To put it differently, OCP should be ranked over IO-DEP in order to allow candidates with
epenthetic vowel be more optimal than candidates with consonant clusters like ss, sz, etc.:

Also, OCP should be ranked below IO-MAX, because otherwise deletion will be the way to
deal with clusters like ss and sz:


This ranking is illustrated in Tableau 7:

Tableau 7.
☞bu[sɪz] *
bu[sz] *!

The faithfulness constraint IO-DEP should have priority over IO-IDENT (voice) in order to rule
out candidates with epenthesis which is not expected to apply (like in ha[tɪz]).

IO-DEP >> IO-IDENT (voice)

Tableau 8 shows that it would be the candidate ha[tɪz] that would win in case if IO-D EP have
been placed below IO-IDENT (voice):

Tableau 8.
/hat-z/ IO-MAX OCP AGREE (voice) IO-IDENT (voice) IO-DEP VOP
ha[ts] *!
☞ha[tɪz] * *

Thus, the total ranking of the constraints should be the following:

IO-MAX >> OCP >> IO-DEP >> AGREE (voice) >> IO-IDENT (voice) >> VOP

This ranking can be illustrated with the following tableaux:

/dog-z/ IO-MAX OCP IO-DEP AGREE (voice) IO-IDENT (voice) VOP
☞do[gz] ***
do[ks] *!* *
do[kz] *! * **
do[z] *! **
do[gɪz] *! ***

/hat-z/ IO-MAX OCP IO-DEP AGREE (voice) IO-IDENT (voice) VOP
☞ha[ts] *
ha[dz] * *!*
ha[tz] *! *
ha[z] *! *

☞bu[sɪz] * **
bu[sz] *! * **
bu[sɪs] * *! *
bu[z] *! **
bu[ss] *! * *

These tableaux show that constraints ranked the way described above can select all the right
candidates in this data-set.

Exercise 2. OT account for palatalization in Chinese.

In the data-set from the assignment 1 on Chinese, the velar consonants k, g, and x undergo
palatalization in position before high front vowels i and y, so that alveolo-palatals [ʨ], [ʥ],
and [ɕ] occur only in highly restricted phonological context. We can say that these two rows
of Chinese consonants are in complementary distribution. [ʨ], [ʥ], and [ɕ] are positionally
predicted allophones of /k/, /g/, and /x/ respectively. I assume that underlyingly Chinese
distinguishes three velar phonemes that can be realized as either velars or alveolo-palatals
depending on the adjacent following vowel. In other words, this is an example of allophonic

Adopting the OT framework, we can account for this distribution via ranking of the following
relevant constraints:
IO-IDENT (place): Correspondent segments in the input and in the output have the same
specification for the place feature.
PALATALIZE: Back consonants before front vowels are not allowed.
*Palatal: Palatal consonants are not allowed.
*Dorsal: Dorsal consonants are not allowed.

As far as these constraints are concerned, it should be kept in mind that for this particular set
of Chinese data
 under front vowels we specifically mean only i and y which are not only front but also
high as opposed to front but not high vowel e that cannot trigger palatalization in this
set off data;
 under palatal consonants we should mean also alveolo-palatals [ʨ], [ʥ], and [ɕ];
 dorsal consonants include velars g, k, and x.

Since both velars and alveolo-palatals can occur at the surface, Markedness constraints which
reflect markedness of palatals should dominate conflicting Faithfulness constraint in order to
allow marked palatals to be optimal candidates at least in specific phonological positions:

Markedness >> Faithfulness
PALATALIZE, *Palatal >> IO-IDENT (place)

Output palatalized consonants as realizations of velar phonemes in front of high front vowels
motivate that the context-sensitive Markedness constraint PALATALIZE should be ranked over
context-free Markedness constraint *Palatal:

PALATALIZE >> *Palatal

As for the context-free Markedness constraint *Dorsal, in a sense it in conflict with *Palatal
because they suggest different types of consonants to be marked in a system and exactly these
types of consonants are complementary distributed in our data. Since it is velars that are
phonemes, while alveolo-palatals are their allophones and can appear only in highly-restricted
phonological context, I argue that in this case dorsals are more likely to appear in most
contexts and are less marked within this set then their alveolo-palatal counterparts. This
observation can be captured by the following ranking:

*Palatal >> *Dorsal

Thus, we end up with the following generalizations:
PALATALIZE, *Palatal >> IO-IDENT (place)
PALATALIZE >> *Palatal
*Palatal >> *Dorsal

According to the transitivity of ranking principle (Kager 1999: 21), in order to account for the
allophonic variation of velars and palatals in Chinese, we should assume the following

PALATALIZE >> *Palatal >> IO-IDENT (place), *Dorsal

Basically, we crucially need only two first ranked constraints:

MC-sensitive >> MC-free
PALATALIZE >> *Palatal

In case of high front vowel in the input, the PALATALIZE constraint will rule out candidates with
a velar consonant.
In case of any other vowel in the input, the *Palatal constraint will rule out marked alveolo-
palatal and allow the candidate with a velar win.
In other words, the Faithfulness constraint does not play any significant role here meaning
that its violation is not fatal because it is ranked so low.

The ranking of IO-IDENT (place) and *Dorsal with respect to one another is not relevant to
the outcome, which is shown by a dashed line in the tableaux.

Let us illustrate the ranking of constraints with tableau.

Tableau 1.
/ki/ PALATALIZE *Palatal IO-IDENT (place) *Dorsal
ki *! *
☞ ʨi * *

Tableau 1 shows that the candidate [ki] fatally violates the highest-ranked constraint
PALATALIZE, while the candidate [ʨi] happily satisfies it and becomes a winner. Shaded
zone shows that all the further constraint violations in this competition do not matter.
Violations of lower-ranked constraints by the competing ʨi candidate are not counted because they
cannot “team up” against higher-ranked constraint (Kager 1999: 23). As a result, ʨi appears to be
the most harmonic candidate out of the considered two.

Tableau 2.
/ku/ PALATALIZE *Palatal IO-IDENT (place) *Dorsal
☞ ku *
ʨu *! *

Tableau 2 illustrates that the candidate [ku] turns to be the optimal candidate as opposed to
the candidate [ʨu] because the former satisfies the Markedness constraint which militates
palatals while the latter dos not do so.

According to the Richness of the Base Hypothesis, there are no restrictions on the input form,
so that, theoretically, any input can be assumed (Kager 1999: 19; 29).
Thus, in order to be sure that the ranking of constraints is correct, we should check if different
assumptions of an input form are irrelevant for selection of the right optimal candidate.

Tableau 3 below illustrates that change of input from /ki/ to /ʨi/ changes the evaluation of
candidates only with respect to the Faithfulness constraint IO-IDENT (place). Since we have
ranked it lower than the relevant Markedness constraints which are crucial here in selection of
the optimal candidate, evaluation that this lower-ranked Faithfulness constraint can give is not
significant for the output result.

Tableau 3.
/ʨi/ PALATALIZE *Palatal IO-IDENT (place) *Dorsal
ki *! * *
☞ ʨi *

The same is true for the Tableau 4:

Tableau 4.
/ʨu/ PALATALIZE *Palatal IO-IDENT (place) *Dorsal
☞ ku * *
ʨu *!

Tableaux 3 and 5 show that the result of the candidate selection is not negatively affected by
the change of assumption regarding the input form. It means that the ranking of constraints
that we assumed should be correct.

Let us assume that in a language ‘Hypo-Chinese’ the following data is attested:

*ki *ky ku


ʨi ʨy ʨu

This means that in ‘Hypo-Chinese’ both /k/ and /ʨ/ are phonemes because they appear in
minimal pairs of words which differ in meaning: e.g. ku and ʨu. However, in position
followed by a high front vowel, only alveolo-palatal consonants are allowed to occur on the
surface. In other words, in this phonological context the contrast between /k/ and /ʨ/ gets

In order to account for such positional neutralization of lexical contrast, we should figure out
a new ranking of given constraints.

In order to make the candidates with palatals adjacent to front high vowels win, we should
rank PALATALIZE over IO-IDENT (place). However, the *Palatal constraint should be
dominated by Faithfulness constraint in order to let the candidate [ʨu] win in case the lexical
representation is /ʨu/. The ranking of *Palatal and *Dorsal in respect to each other does not
play role for given candidates either.

Finally, I argue that the following ranking can account for positional neutralization of a
contrast between /k/ and /ʨ/ regarding [place] feature:

PALATALIZE >> IO-IDENT (place) >> *Palatal, *Dorsal
MC-sensitive >> Faithfulness >> MC-free

This ranking of constraints is represented in the following tableaux:

Tableau 5.
/ki/ PALATALIZE IO-IDENT (place) *Palatal *Dorsal
ki *! *
☞ ʨi * *

Tableau 6.
/ʨi/ PALATALIZE IO-IDENT (place) *Palatal *Dorsal
ki *! * *
☞ ʨi *

Tableau 7.
/ku/ PALATALIZE IO-IDENT (place) *Palatal *Dorsal
☞ ku *
ʨu *! *

Tableau 8.
/ʨu/ PALATALIZE IO-IDENT (place) *Palatal *Dorsal
ku *! *
☞ ʨu *

Kager, Rene. 1999. Optimality Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

HIF-3022: Phonology. Homework Assignment # 5.

Syllable structure and stress
Candidate number: 7

Exercise 1. Definite marker in Maltese: an OT account.

i. The output shape of the definite marker.

According to the data given, the Maltese definite marker can have two different shapes: [il]
and [l]. In this respect, the definite forms can be subdivided into two groups:

Group 1.
Indefinite Definite
[arja] air [larja] the air
[omm] mother [lomm] the mother
[abt] armpit [labt] the armpit
[ispanjol] Spanish [lispanjol] the Spanish (language)

Group 2.
Indefinite Definite
[fellus] chicken [ilfellus] the chicken
[mara] woman [ilmara] the woman
[kelb] dog [ilkelb] the dog
[ʔattus] cat [ilʔattus] the cat
[ħitan] walls [ilħitan] the walls

The first group includes forms, where the definite marker attaches to a stem with initial vowel
like [omm] ‘mother’ and therefore becomes an onset of the first syllable.

The second group of examples represents what happens, when the definite marker has to
attach to a stem, which already has an onset on the first syllable. In this case, the definite
marker has a different shape, namely [il] instead of [l].

ii. The underlying representation of the definite marker.
Then the question arises: which form of the definite marker coincides with its underlying
representation? I argue that the input form of the definite marker is /l/, which can be realized
as either [l] or [il] depending on initial segment of a stem it attaches to. In the latter form of
this morpheme, [i] is an epenthetic vowel, which breaks down an onset consonant cluster.
Moreover, [i] is a common epenthetic vowel across languages.
The opposite directionality /il/ → [l] would make it unclear why /i/ disappears:
/il-omm/ → [lomm].

Although the data show that consonant clusters can occur in coda position (cf. [omm]
‘mother’; [abt] ‘armpit’), it seems that it is not true for the other margin of a syllable. If we
mark the syllable borderlines the way shown below (in accordance to Onset Maximization
Principle (Zec 2007: 165)), it appears that the Maltese nouns have no complex onsets.
Group 1.
Indefinite Definite
[ar.ja] air [lar.ja] the air
[omm] mother [lomm] the mother
[abt] armpit [labt] the armpit
[is.pan.jol] Spanish [lis.pan.jol] the Spanish (language)

Group 2.
Indefinite Definite
[fel.lus] chicken [il.fel.lus] the chicken
[ma.ra] woman [] the woman
[kelb] dog [il.kelb] the dog
[ʔat.tus] cat [il.ʔat.tus] the cat
[ħi.tan] walls [il.ħi.tan] the walls

The data allows to point out possible syllable structure types in Maltese:
CV [ma.ra]
CVC [ħi.tan]
CVCC [kelb]
VC [ar.ja]
*CCVC *[]

In this sense, if the definite marker /l/ attaches to a noun with initial consonant like
[ma.ra] ‘woman’, a consonant cluster in the onset position is created: /l-ma.ra/. The cluster
violates an important constraint which banns complex onsets.
The repair strategy employed by Maltese is initial epenthesis: /l-ma.ra/ → [].
/l/ is not allowed to join the initial syllable, which already have an onset. That is why it has to
constitute a syllable on its own necessarily getting a nucleus via an epenthetic vowel.

The observed alternation in the shape of the definite marker can be formally represented as
/l/ → [l]/_V
/l/ → [il]/_C

iii. The OT account.
The syllable structure constraint responsible for the alternation in the shape of the Maltese
definite marker is *COMPLEXONS:

“Syllables must not have more than one onset segment” (Zec 2007: 168).

Since complex onsets are not allowed in Maltese, this constraint should be ranked relatively
high. In particular, *COMPLEXONS should outrank faithfulness constraint DEP-IO, so that we
could get epenthesis as an active repair strategy:

“Output segments must have input correspondents. (‘No epenthesis’)” (Kager 1999: 101).


Let us consider if these two constraints with this ranking are able to select the right candidate.

Tableau 1.
lma.ra *! *!
☞ ma.ra
☞ la.ra *!

With the set of constraints given, it is the wrong candidates [ma.ra] and [la.ra] that
win. In order to resolve the onset cluster, these candidates make use of deletion of one extra
Tableau 1 proves, that in order to rule out candidates like [ma.ra] and [la.ra], an
additional constraint is needed, namely the anti-deletion faithfulness constraint MAX-IO:

“Input segments must have output correspondents. (‘No deletion’)” (Kager 1999: 102).

Since the repair strategy for complex onsets is epenthesis, not deletion, MAX-IO should be
ranked over DEP-IO:


Thus, we get the ranking where the constraints *COMPLEXONS and MAX-IO are
prioritized over DEP-IO but the relative ranking of *COMPLEXONS and MAX-IO in respect to
each other is not relevant at least for this set of data:


In tableau 2, it is marked by the vertical dash line:

Tableau 2.
lma.ra *!
☞ *
ma.ra *!
la.ra *!
☞ *

Tableau 2 points out another problem. It indicates that the right candidate [] is
no more optimal than the wrong candidate []. The only difference between these two
candidates is the site of epenthesis. It appears that the set of constraints we have is not
sufficient in order to account for the right site of the epenthetic vowel.

In it crucial that epenthesis in Maltese definite marker is similar to the pattern attested
in Kirgiz. Zec (2007) mentions that Kirgiz also has word-initial consonant clusters that get
resolved via epenthesis and what is crucial here is that the site of epenthesis depends on
sonority scale: in case if the cluster exhibits falling or flat sonority, the initial epenthesis takes
place, while in case of rising sonority the epenthetic vowel is inserted in between the
consonants (Zec 2007: 190).
If we look at the Maltese data from this perspective, it becomes obvious that here we
deal with similar case. According to the sonority scale provided in (Zec 2007: 178), all the
consonant clusters created by attachment of the definite marker /l/, in particular [lf] in
[il.fel.lus], [lk] in [il.kelb], [lʔ] in [il.ʔat.tus], and [lħ] in [il.ħi.tan] are clusters of descending
sonority. Even the cluster [lm] in [] exhibits falling sonority because the lateral
approximant [l] is more sonorant than a nasal [m] (cf. Zec 2007: 178).
I argue that the falling sonority pattern in these clusters seems to be the reason
for initial epenthesis, which would rather be named a vocalic prosthesis. However, I haven’t
found any corresponding constraint in the literature1.

On the other hand, what is also crucial for this case is that [l]~[il] constitutes both a
prosodic unit and a single morpheme. Keeping this in mind, the constraint that could
account for the site of epenthetic vowel in Maltese definite nouns is an alignment
constraint that links the right edge of a morpheme with the right edge of a syllable:
However, in the literature we can only find the constraint ALIGN-MORPH-L:

Here, after the assignment deadline, I want to add a short note that already working
on my final course paper I have finally found the relevant discussion in (Gouskova 2001) on
the site of epenthesis in Kirgiz loanwords. Kirgiz has a split pattern of epenthesis, where
peripheral epenthesis occurs in falling and flat sonority clusters as in Kirgiz uzvana < Russian
zveno, while internal epenthesis takes place in rising sonority onsets as in Kirgiz <
Russian plita ‘stovetop’ (Gouskova 2001: 179).
Although Maltese, according to the data we have, does not exhibit exactly this pattern
of split epenthesis (Maltese either have edge epenthesis in case of falling sonority cluster in
the onset or does not have epenthesis at all, when the definite marker attaches directly to the
initial vowel), the site of epenthesis in Maltese can be captured by the constraint
CONTIGUITY, used in (Gouskova 2001: 177): “elements adjacent in the input must be
adjacent in the output”. This constraint is basically an alignment constraint but more general
Thus, in order to prefer edge epenthesis, we need CONTIGUITY, and in order to get
epenthesis at all as a repair strategy the ranking should be CONTIGUITY >> DEP-IO. Then the
tableau 2 will be improved as follows:
Tableau 2*.
/l-ma.ra/*COMPLEXONS MAX-IOCONTIGUITYDEP-IO lma.ra*!☞* ma.ra*! la.ra*!*!*This tableau proves that the ranking is right.

“The left edge of a morpheme coincides with the left of a syllable” (Kager 1999: 115).

This constraint is satisfied by the wrong candidate [] and is violated by the most
optimal candidate [] that is shown below:


PrWd PrWd
Prosodic organization

σ σ σ σ σ σ

i l m a r a l i m a r a

μ μ μ μ
Morphological organization
GrWd GrWd

μ here stands for a morpheme.
In [], the left edge of the syllable and definite marker coincide, while in [] they
do not.

If we employ ALIGN-R constraint and rank it over ALIGN-MORPH-L, that could safe the
situation but only if we had to deal with il and li word-finally. Thus, the account that Kager
suggests for the epenthesis pattern in Lenakel (Kager 1999: 115-6) will not work for Maltese.

“The right edge of a Grammatical Word coincides with the right edge of a syllable” (Kager
1999: 115).

ALIGN-R is helpful, when we have to do with prosodic words. However, this case in Maltese
is finer-grained because we deal with morpho-syllabic alignment.

Having no solution for ruling out candidates like, I leave this question open and
finally end up with the following ranking:


The correctness of this ranking is demonstrated in the Tableaux 3 and 4.

Tableau 3.
lma.ra *!
☞ *
ma.ra *!
la.ra *!

Tableau 4.
☞ lomm
omm *!
i.lomm2 *!
li.omm *!

To summarize, the alternation in the output shape of Maltese definite marker is captured by
interaction of three OT constraints which are: the syllabic well-formedness constraint
*COMPLEXONS and faithfulness constraints MAX-IO and DEP-IO.

Here, [l] is not coda of the first syllable but links to the onset of the second syllable
according to the Onset Maximization Principle (Zec 2007: 165), which says that VCV
sequence is across languages commonly syllabified not as VC.V but rather as V.CV.

Exercise 2. French high vowels syllabification.

i. In the French data, there are three pairs of alternating segments:
[u] ~ [w] [il.ʒu] vs. [ʒwe]
[y] ~ [ɥ] [il.ty] vs. [tɥe]
[i] ~ [j] [] vs. [lje]

In each of these pairs, the first segment is a high vowel (back [u] or front [i] and [y]) and the
other alternate is a glide (voiced labial-velar approximant [w], voiced labial-palatal
approximant [ɥ] or palatal approximant [j]).

The segments of each pair are in complementary distribution:
 The high vowels that occur in the syllable-final position get preserved: [kɔ.lɔ.ni]
 The high vowels that are followed by a non-high vowel ([e] or [a] in particular) turn
into glides: [kɔ.lɔ.njal], [lje].

This observation can be formally represented as follows:

V [+high] → V [+high]/_ σ]
V [+high] → C /_ V [- high] σ]

The reason for different syllabification of these segments is their structural position in a
syllable and sonority degree of their closest neighbours. Sonority and syllabicity of the
segment have to do with syntagmatic sequencing (also discussed in Zeg 2007: 187 – 188).
Since high vowels in terms of sonority are less perspicuous than non-high vowels (Zec 2007:
173, 178), they lose the nucleus status and link to the onset in position adjacent to a more
sonorants segment like non-high vowel. On the other hand, syllable-finally high vowels keep
the role of nucleus being more sonorants than the preceding onset consonant.

Constraint that causes the alternation here is NoHiatus: ‘a V.V sequence is prohibited’. In
case of hiatus, less sonorants vowel turns into a consonant.

In the data-set B, the high vowels do not turn into glides although they are followed by non-
high vowels: [pli.e], *[plje]. The question arises: why?
I argue that what prevents the expected alternation to take place here is the constraint against
too complex onset clusters, namely the clusters that contain more than two consonants:
*[ σCC+.
If the high vowel that comes after bi-consonantal onset turned into a glide that would create a
cluster of tree consonants that is not allowed in French.

In order to account for the data in the set B, *[ σCC+ should be ranked higher than NoHiatus:
*[ σCC+ >> NoHiatus

Correctness of this ranking is shown in the two following tableaux3:

I assume that underlying representation of the alternating segment is a high vowel because it
is less restricted by the context than a glide.

Tableau 1.
/plie/ *[ σCC+ NoHiatus
☞ pli.e *
plje *!

Tableau 2.
/lie/ *[ σCC+ NoHiatus
lie *!
☞ lje

Kager, Rene. 1999. Optimality Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kager, Rene. 2007. Feet and metrical stress. In DeLacy, Paul (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook
of Phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 195 – 227.
Zec, Draga. 2007. The syllable. In DeLacy, Paul (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of
Phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 161 – 194.

HIF-3022: Phonology. Homework Assignment # 6

Quantity sensitivity in Czech
Candidate number: 7

1. Stress patterns in native and loan words.

In respect to stress assignment, native words in (1) and loan words in (2) behave pretty much
the same.
In all of them the primary stress falls on the left-most syllable, a foot is binary and the foot
type is trochee. Both native words (1) and loan words (2) allow unfooted syllable: 'be.lost.ný
and 'α.plαus. In these two sets of examples, the secondary stress appears only in four-syllabic
words. Four-syllabic loan words have secondary stress on the second foot.
Neither native nor loan words show quantity sensitivity here. H stands for a heavy syllable,
while L indicates the light one. As a heavy syllable here I count syllables with long vowels
and closed syllables.

(1) Native words
a. 'dάl.kα ('σσ) 'HL
b. 'pα.pír ('σσ) 'LH
c. ' ('σσ) 'LL
d. 'be.lost.ný ('σσ)σ 'LHH

It cannot but be noticed that papir is not likely to be a native word for a Slavic language like

(2) Loan words
a. 'kli.šé ('σσ) 'LH
b. 'kri.té.ˌ ('σσ)(,σσ) 'LH,LH
c. 'α.plαus or 'αp.lαus ('σσ)σ 'LLH
d. 'kα.ri.ˌé.rα ('σσ)(,σσ) ̖

2. Sensitivity of stress assignment to prefix and compound boundaries.

Morphological boundaries seem to play important role in the Czech stress assignment.

(3) Prefix boundary
a. 'nosit ('σσ)
b. 'do-nosit ('σσ)σ

(4) Compound boundary
a. 'čˌbí.lý ('σσ)#(ˌσσ)
b. 'nάˌhos.po.ˌdάř.ský ('σσ)σ#(ˌσσ)(ˌσσ)
c. 'o.brά.zo.#ˌtvor.nost ('σσ)σ#(ˌσσ)
d. 'ˌfilm ('σσ)#(ˌσ)

If we can only make any generalization based only on one example, prefix boundary does not
trigger secondary stress to appear. However, a compound boundary does:
'do-nosit but 'ˌfilm.
Example in (4d) also shows that Czech allows degenerate foot.

In other words, stress assignment is sensitive to root boundaries in compounds but not to the
boundaries between root and a prefix (or suffix). In particular, compound boundary triggers a
secondary stress even in a three-syllabic word like 'ˌfilm.

On the other hand, a compound boundary can eliminate stress assignment as in 'nά
ˌhos.po.ˌdάř.ský by skipping the third syllable in foot parsing.

Prosodically, root morphemes in Czech compounds behave as prosodic words, because they
always have a stress on the left-most syllable.
3. Quantity sensitivity in Czech.
In Czech orthography, a diacritic symbol ʹ marks long vowels. Long vowels are distinguished
from the short ones in terms of weight. Long vowels make a syllable heavy. Examples in (5)
and (6) show, that Czech follows cross-linguistically common tendency when heavy syllable
attract stress.
Although the primary stress always falls on the left-most syllable of a prosodic word, the
placement of the secondary stress can be affected by the syllable weight.

(5) Quantity sensitivity.
a. 'ˌtαč.ní ('σσ)σ(ˌσσ) ('LL)L(ˌHH)
b. 'ˌtic.ký ('σσ)σ(σˌσ) ('HL)L(ˌHH)

It seems that in Czech both long vowels and codas can make a syllable heavy. In this sense, in
'ˌtαč.ní, both tαč and ní are heavy syllables: the former because of the coda; the latter
because of the long vowel.

In 'ˌtαč.ní, the heavy syllable tαč attracts the stress and shifts it from the preceding
light syllable mi. It is a question how this word then gets parsed in feet: does the second foot
change from trochee into iamb as in ('LL)(LˌH)H or the light syllable mi gets skipped in
parsing and the syllabic structure becomes ('HL)L(ˌHH). I assume the latter because all the
rest of the feet attested in the given data from Czech are trochee and also because a syllable
can be left unfooted in parsing as in words like 'nάˌhos.po.ˌdάř.ský. The same quantity
sensitivity effect takes place in stress assignment in 'ˌtic.ký and in all the rest of the
words in (5).

In this sense, it is crucial to take into account examples in (6):

(6) Quantity sensitivity.
a. 'bi.o.ˌ ('σσ)(ˌσσ)σ ('LL)(ˌLL)L
b. 'bi.o.lo.ˌgic.ký ('σσ)(σˌσ)σ ('LL)(LˌH)H

In the word like biologie, which has five syllables, secondary stress gets assigned to the third
syllable from the left edge of a prosodic word. This is predictable according to examples with
four and more syllables like 'kα.ri.ˌé.rα. This stress assignment could be also supported by the

root-boundary in a compound because this word is borrowed from Latin and has two root
morphemes: bio + logos.

What happens then in the adjectival derivate 'bi.o.lo.ˌgic.ký is that the secondary stress moves
from the third syllable lo to the forth one gic, probably attracted by the heaviness of this

To summarize, stress assignment in Czech follows the following rules:
 Feet are binary;
 Foot type is trochee;
 Primary stress is initial;
 Feet are counted from the left edge of a prosodic word to the right;
 Non-exhaustive parsing is allowed: syllables can be skipped in parsing and left
unfooted (e.g. 'o.brά.zo.#ˌtvor.nost ('σσ)σ#(ˌσσ));
 Degenerate syllables are allowed (e.g. 'be.lost.ný ('σσ)σ);
 Secondary stress appears in a word with more then three syllables;
 In a more-than-three-syllabic word, secondary stress falls on the third syllable (head of
the second foot) counting from the left;
 In three-syllabic compound word secondary stress can be triggered by salience of a
root morpheme. In this sense, root morphemes can be treated as prosodic words;
 A long vowel or coda consonant make a syllable heavy;
 Czech combines syllabic trochee (quantity-insensitive) pattern with partial moraic
trochee (quantity-sensitive) pattern. The latter is only for the secondary stress;
 Heavy syllables in multi-syllabic words can attract secondary stress and shift it from
an adjacent light syllable.

These peculiarities of the Czech stress assignment can be captured by the following OT
constraints (constraints definitions are taken from Kager 2007):

‘Feet are binary under moraic or syllabic analysis’ (Kager 2007: 206).
‘Syllables are parsed by feet’ (Kager 2007: 206).

As we have seen, the binary foot pattern is strict in Czech but the parsing of syllables into feet
can be non-exhaustive, so that odd-syllabic words usually contain an unfooted syllable and
degenerate foot is also allowed. Although there is an example of degenerate foot in
',film ('σσ)#(ˌσ), the pattern with unfooted (unparsed) last odd syllable as in
'be.lost.ný ('σσ)σ (compare 'α.plαus, 'do-nosit, etc.) is more common.

This suggests that FT-BIN should be ranked over PARSE-SYL to get ('σσ)σ as a default instead
of ('σσ)(ˌσ) which is due to compound boundary affect:

In Czech, syllables are parsed into feet starting from the left-most syllable. This can be
captured by alignment constraint ALIGN-WD-LEFT:

“Every PrWd begins with a foot” (Kager 1999: 169).

This constraint is never violated in our data. It means that It should be ranked on the top:

The placement of the primary stress should be determined by the head alignment constraint:
‘The PrWd begins with the primary stress foot’ (Kager 2007: 210).

This constraint should be also ranked on the top because according to the data it cannot be
violated in Czech. In other words, primary stress always falls on the left-most syllable of a
prosodic word.


The type of the foot should be specified by constraint FtForm (Trochee):
“Feet are left-headed” (taken from our handout from the class)

This constraint is never violated in our data can be violated by stress shift too, so that I rank
them on the top too:

Correctness of this ranking is proved in the following tableau:

Tableau 1.
☞('σσ)σ *
('σσ)(ˌσ) *!
(σ'σ)σ *! * *
(ˌσσ)(σ) *! *
σ('σσ) *! * *

This tableau captures the words like 'be.lost.ný, which has 3 syllables.

This ranking should also account for compound boundary effect on stress assignment. I
assume here that a root morpheme in compounds counts as a prosodic word. The only
problem is that ALIGN-WD-LEFT constraint is about primary stress but not secondary stress.
However, this can probably be accounted for by introducing an additional constraint which
would require only one primary stress for a compound ranked higher than ALIGN-WD-LEFT.

Tableau 2.
/mikro#film/ Trochee ALIGN- ALIGN- FT- PARSE-
☞('ˌfilm) *
(mik.'ro.)film *! *
mik.(' *! *
(' *! *

I assume here that the foot (ˌfilm) which carries the secondary stress is trochee too, although it
is degenerate. That is why it does not violate the foot type constraint Trochee.

As for the direction of parsing (left-to-right), it should be determined by foot alignment
‘Every foot stands at the left edge of the PrWd’ (Kager 2007: 207).
‘Every foot stands at the right edge of the PrWd’ (Kager 2007: 207).

Since Czech has left-to-right foot distribution, ALL-FT-LEFT constraint must be prioritized
Also, both of these constraints should be dominated, otherwise only a word that consists of a
single left-most foot would be allowed.


In order to capture the data in (5) and (6), quantity-sensitivity constraint is needed:

‘Heavy syllables must be stressed’ (Kager 2007: 214).

In words like 'bi.o.lo.,gic.ký, this constraint is prioritized over exhaustive parsing. It means
that WSP should be ranked over PARSE-SYL:


We finally arrive at the following ranking, which can account for stress shift to a heavy


Tableau 3.
/biologický/ ee WD-L HD-L BIN Ft-L Ft-R
☞('bi.o.)lo.(ˌgic.ký) * * * *
(bi.'o.)(lo.gic.)ký *! ** * * **
('bi.o.)(ˌlo.gic.)ký *!* * * **
bi.( 'o.lo).(ˌgic.ký) *! * * ** *
(ˌbi.o.)lo.( 'gic.ký) *! * * * *

Tableau 4.
/ ee WD-L HD-L BIN Ft-L Ft-R
('bi.o.)lo.(ˌgi.e) *! * *
☞ ('bi.o.)(ˌ * **
(bi.'o.)(lo.ˌgi.)e *! * * **
('bi.o.)(lo.ˌgi.)e *! * * **

Kager, Rene. 1999. Optimality Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kager, Rene. 2007. Feet and metrical stress. In DeLacy, Paul (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook
of Phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 195 – 227.
Zec, Draga. 2007. The syllable. In DeLacy, Paul (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of
Phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 161 – 194.

University of Tromsø. HIF-3022: Phonology.
Homework Assignment # 4

Candidate number: 7

The last block of our Phonology course has been devoted to tonal phonological
systems and therefore was especially informative for those who do not speak any tone
language (like me). In this synopsis, I will discuss the basic terms that we have learned, the
distribution of tone languages around the world and some crucial typological differences that
exist among tonal languages. I will also look at the basic properties of tones and the way how
they are accounted for in OT.

1. Tone and Intonation, or how far a language goes in pitch exploitation.

What makes a tone language different from a non-tone language is the specific use of
a pitch.
It seems that every natural sound language to more or less extent makes use of pitch.
Under a pitch here we understand a rate of vocal cords vibration. The rate of vibration
depends on the degree of stretching, or tensing, of the cords. The higher the rate of vibration
goes, the higher the pitch gets.
Most languages familiar to me employ the pitch in order to contrast contour shape of
phrases, to convey pragmatic or emotional emphasis, completeness or incompleteness of an
utterance, etc. Such a use of pitch is called intonation.
Tone is a linguistic term that refers to the use of pitch on the more “granular” level:
tone languages employ pitch in order to distinguish among different words or even different
among grammatical forms of a word. To put it differently, here pitch is used for lexical or
grammatical contrast.
Tone is a very specific prosodic, or supra-segmental, feature and is different from
segmental features not only in the way of its non-linear realization but also in terms of its
behavior. For instance, if a segment, on which a tone is realized, gets deleted, the tone itself
stays behind and realizes on another segment instead. This property is known as tone
stability or tone preservation (Yip 2007: 7; Odden 2005: 306). At the same time, the ability of
a tone to be realized on another segment suggests that a tone is mobile and can also spread
from one segment to another. This property of a tone is also attested and is called tone
spreading (Yip 2007: 7). When these facts were discovered, linguists came to the idea that
tone is not a feature that originally belongs to a segment but rather a phenomenon that is to a
large degree independent from a segment it realizes on (Goldsmith 1976). This is the reason
for representing tones on the tiers separate from the segments but connected to them via a link
called association line:



In the figures below (from Yip 2007: 7), the solid lines represent underlying tones,
while dashed lines mean tone spreading or move:

(1) Tone stability (2) Tone spreading (3) Tone mobility

σ σ σ σ σ σ σ σ σ


The relevant terminology reflects the same idea of tone “independence”: a syllable or
other segment, on which a tone is realized, is referred to as a Tone-Bearing Unit (TBU).

2. Tone languages

Since our knowledge of world languages is very incomplete (according to (Evans &
Levinson 2009: 6), only less than 10% of 5000 / 8000 languages have decent descriptions), it
is hard to say precisely how wide-spread the tonal systems are around the world. However, a
lot of typological work has already been done here, so that we know that more than a half of
world languages (&0% according Yip 2007: 1) are tonal.
The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) (2005) suggests different
distribution: out of 527 languages in its data 306 (58,2%) turn to be non-tonal. However, as
the Atlas’s creators point out themselves, this percentage is due to under-representation of
tonal languages in their database. Foe example, out of about 15000 Niger-Congo languages,
the Atlas accounts only for 68 languages (cf. Maddieson
However, the map provided by the WALS ( clearly shows
the areas predominated by tonal languages which is Africa, East and Southern Asia, Central
America and New Guinea. Surprisingly, no tonal languages were attested in Australia.
Some Indo-European languages are tonal too, namely Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian,
Lithuanian, Serbian, Croatian, etc.
Some tonal languages have big numbers of speakers, like Mandarin Chinese (885
million), Yoruba (a West-African language spoken by 20 million people), and Swedish (9
million) (Yip 2007).
Languages differ in complexity of their tonal systems. In this sense, there can be up to
4 or 5 tone levels distinction within a language (as in Bencnon or Mambila, cf. Yip 2007: 3).
Nevertheless, the most wide-spread tonal languages exhibit 2 or 3 tone distinction.
Another tonal property that languages can have is contour tones, which can be further
subdivided into rising and falling tones. In some languages a contour tone may occur only in
polysyllabic words, while other can easily have contours within a syllable (Yip 2007: 3).
Moreover, contours can arise from different sources: they can appear as a result of vowel
deletion and reassosiation of a tone but usually not from the spreading of a tone (Yip 2007:
As we can see, the tonal languages are very diverse and exhibit different types of
phonetic and grammar systems. It would be interesting to study whether there is any
relationship between complexity of a tonal system and other “dimensions” of phonological

complexity like the size of vowels and consonants inventory, number of contrastive
phonological features employed apart from the tone, etc.

3. Tone in OT

Optimality Theory has a number of constraints that can account for the tone
Some of them are not tone-specific:

OCP (Obligatory Contour Principle)
Two identical segments must not be adjacent (Yip 2007: 17).

Tone insertion is prohibited (Yip 2007: 12).

Tone deletion is prohibited (Yip 2007: 12).

Other constraints are tone-specific:

Every TBU must bare a tone (Yip 2007: 12).

All the tones must be associated to some TBU (Yip 2007: 11)

“No adjacent syllables linked to prominent tone, i.e. H” (against adjacent syllables with H
tone *HH) (Yip 2007: 12).

Tone crowding in one TBU is not allowed.

As we can see, there are many specifically tone-oriented universal constraints. I am
wondering how they are used or may be just stored in the grammars of species with non-tonal
phonological systems. Is the OT account for intonation similar to the one for tone?

4. Tone & Prominence interaction

The most attractive positions for tones tend to be positions of high prominence,
namely stressed syllables and word edges (Yip 2007: 8; De Lacy 2007: 297 – 299). This
properties can be captured by OT word-allignment constraints like ALIGN-L (Tone, PrWd):

ALIGN-L (Tone, PrWd)
Each tone must stay as close to the left edge of the prosodic word as possible (Yip 2007: 9).

A tone contour can also be aligned to a word edge, which is accounted for by another
alignment constraint ALIGN-R (Contour):

ALIGN-R (Contour)
All the contours must be final (Yip 2007: 11).

Another common strategy of tone systems is loss of a tonal contrast in unstressed
positions, which can be compared with vowel reduction in unstressed syllables. Like a vowel
reduction, this process can be accounted for by high-most ranked positional faithfulness
constraint HEAD-MAX-T ranked over markedness constraint *TONE:

Changhai loss of non-head tones (according to Yip 2007: 14):

5. Concluding remarks

In this synopsis, I have provided an overview of the block on tonal phonological
systems. I have shown the difference between tone and intonation, discussed the core terms of
tonal phonology like pitch, association line and tone nearing unit. I have also observed some
common types of tone behaviour like tone stability and tone spreading. Some crucial ideas
were also observed from the typological perspective, which is relevant for OT account based
on language universal constraints. The most important OT constraints for tone systems have
also been described.
It would be great to learn more about relationship between complexity of a tonal
inventory and other “dimensions” of phonological complexity.
Another interesting question is acquisition of tonal and non-tonal phonological
systems and how it is related to basic human cognitive ability to perceive music, which is now
claimed to be specific for the humans.

Evans, Nicholas and Stephen Levinson. 2009. The Myth of Language Universals: Language
diversity and its importance for cognitive science. In Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
32(5), Cambridge University Press. 429-492.
Available at

De Lacy, Paul. 2007. The interaction of tone, sonority and prosodic structure. In De Lacy,
Paul (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology. Cambridge University Press. 281
– 307.

Goldsmith, J. 1976. An Overview of Autosegmental Phonology. In Linguistic Analysis 2.1. 23
– 68. Reprinted in Goldsmith, J. 1999 (ed.) Phonological Theory: The Essential
Readings. Oxford, Blackwell’s.

Odden, David. 2005. Introducing phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS). 2005. Oxford University Press. Available

Yip, Moira. 2007. Tone. In De Lacy, Paul (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology.
Cambridge University Press. 229 – 251.