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When diachrony meets synchrony. Phonological change, phonological variation and Optimal Paradigms
Dialect Laboratory. Dialects as a testing ground for theories of language change. Studies in Language Companion Series (SLCS) 128. (2012)
  • Clàudia Pons-Moll
Abstract

General goals. This paper has three goals. First, it aims to illustrate how the problems derived from access to intricate diachronic empirical data can sometimes be informed by a careful look at interdialectal microvariation, in that this linguistic microvariation can sometimes help to explain why a phonological process applies or has applied. Second, it intends to show how some of the machineries developed within Optimality Theory to account for synchronic surface resemblances between the members of an inflectional paradigm can be applied to account for phonological change. Third, it attempts to demonstrate how the analysis of phonological change and linguistic variation in a specific linguistic variety and across nearby linguistic varieties can provide noteworthy insights about the architecture of these machineries. Specific goals and results. Paradigmatic pressures do not work in a homogeneous or symmetric way. As already noted by many scholars, factors such as the degree of phonological similarity, the degree of semantic closeness, the degree of productivity between the members of a paradigm, or the number of grammatical properties which these members share are directly correlated with the degree of phonological pressure exerted between them. In this paper we have focused on this latter factor. In this paper we show how the Optimal Paradigms model can be straightforwardly refined in such a way that the predicted symmetrical influence between the members of an inflectional paradigm can be modified by giving more power of reciprocal influence to members which share more grammatical properties and less power of reciprocal influence to members which share less grammatical properties. On the basis of the analysis of a set of processes drawn from Catalan, Spanish and Occitan nominal inflection, we detected not only a higher connection between members which share more grammatical properties but also between members related by number with respect to those related by gender. Other important results of the paper are the confirmation of McCarthy’s prediction that phonological markedness governs the direction of the paradigmatic pressure and that, unless other markedness requirements are at play, only overapplication of a process due to paradigmatic pressure is possible within the inflectional paradigm. Theoretical scope: phonological change, language variation, paradigms, inclusion, productivity Empirical scope: Catalan, Spanish and Occitan nominal inflection

Keywords
  • phonological change,
  • language variation,
  • paradigms,
  • inclusion,
  • productivity,
  • Catalan,
  • Spanish and Occitan nominal inflection
Publication Date
2012
Citation Information
Clàudia Pons-Moll. "When diachrony meets synchrony. Phonological change, phonological variation and Optimal Paradigms" Dialect Laboratory. Dialects as a testing ground for theories of language change. Studies in Language Companion Series (SLCS) 128. Vol. 128 (2012)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/claudia_pons-moll/5/