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2019 | 28/2 | 47-61

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Compensatory Lengthening in OT and DOT: Loss of Dorsal Fricatives in Middle or Early Modern English


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The loss of dorsal fricatives in English held significant consequences for the adjacent tautosyllabic vowels, which underwent Compensatory Lengthening in order to preserve a syllable weight. While the process appears to be regular in descriptive terms, its evaluation handled within standard Optimality Theory highlights the ineffectiveness of the framework to parse both the segment deletion and two weight-related processes: Weight- by-Position and vowel lengthening due to mora preservation. As Optimality Theory has failed to analyse the data in a compelling manner, the introduction of derivation, benefit- ting from the legacy of Lexical Phonology, seems inevitable. The working solution is provided by Derivational Optimality Theory, which assumes a restrictive use of intermediate stages throughout the evaluation.


  • University of Warsaw


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