Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory - Eulàlia Bonet

Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory - Eulàlia Bonet

The Nature of Allomorphy: Evidence from Burushaski Plurals

Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory - Eulàlia Bonet

Patrik Bye [+-]
University of Nordland/University of Tromsø
Patrik Bye is currently Associate Professor of English Language at the University of Nordland, in Bodø (Norway), and affiliate of the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL) at the University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway. He has published scholarly articles on a range of topics including the syllable structure, quantity, and stress systems of the Finno-Ugric languages, notably Saami, North Germanic accentology and historical phonology, process interaction, allomorphy and, with Peter Svenonius, morphological exponence. He is the editor, with Martin Krämer and Sylvia Blaho, of Freedom of Analysis? (Mouton de Gruyter, 2007).


Important early work on phonologically conditioned allomorphy in OT argued that suppletive allomorph distribution (SAD) could be seen in terms of the emergence of the unmarked (e.g. Tranel 1994, Mascaró 1996). Later work by Paster (2006) and Bye (2007), however, has provided evidence that at least some cases of SAD are arbitrary. Such cases crucially require encoding the condition into either the lexical specification of the allomorph or the lexically specific constraints that refer to it. The formation of the plural in Burushaski, a language isolate of northern Pakistan, is a case study in arbitrary SAD. The realization of the plural is extraordinarily rich in suppletive allomorphs. To the extent that it is rule-governed, the distribution of these allomorphs may nevertheless be underdetermined by considerations of markedness or, in some cases, even the opposite of what one would expect on phonological grounds. For some suppletive allomorphs, moreover, semantic conditioning is also involved, underscoring the arbitrary nature of the distribution. Plural formation is, further, rich in exceptions, although the exceptionality is clearly patterned (Zuraw 2000). Considerations of markedness, generality of the allomorph, and phonetic similarity between exceptional forms and their ‘attractors’ are shown to play a role in shaping the exceptional patterns.

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Bye, Patrik . The Nature of Allomorphy: Evidence from Burushaski Plurals. Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 107-176 Jul 2015. ISBN 9781845532970. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=25217. Date accessed: 18 Aug 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25217. Jul 2015

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