Parallelism and planes in optimality theory: evidence from afar

Optimal Domains and the Multiplanar Model

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Optimal Domains and the Multiplanar Model

Cole and Kisseberth (1994) propose a model that shares some properties with the one proposed here to account for transparency and opaqueness in harmony systems. In particular, they propose harmony domains, “structures which are defined by universal constraints, and which are explicitly encoded in phonological representation” (Cole & Kisseberth 1994:2). Basically, they suggest that a harmony domain is an explicit phonological structure just like a syllable or foot, and that harmony is the realization of a feature on anchors within that domain. The specifics of their proposal regarding harmony per se are irrelevant to the issues here. The question is what relationship the domains in Optimal Domains Theory have to the planes in the Multiplanar Model? Are they formal variants of one another? The answer is both yes and no. Domains are simply linear planes and are therefore potentially a subset of the planes available in the Multiplanar Model. Domains are defined phonologically, however, whereas planes are defined morphologically. Several avenues for future research are suggested. Given that planes are defined morphologically and domains are defined phonologically, is there any relationship between planes and domains? Is there data which suggests that phonological domains must, at times, be nonlinear?

Possibilities for Axininca Campa

If the Multiplanar Model eliminates the need for a Levels Model in the analysis of Afar, perhaps it eliminates the need for a Levels Model at all in Optimality Theory. For example, it may be that the Multiplanar Model obviates the need for levels in Axininca Campa. First I briefly introduce the facts that cause McCarthy and Prince (1993) to posit the existence of levels. I then suggest that the Multiplanar Model might account for the data without levels.

McCarthy and Prince state that although there is some overlap in the morphological properties of prefixes and suffixes, “their phonological properties are quite different, both in character and in degree of generality” (McCarthy and Prince 1993:24). They propose that the grammar is organized as follows.
(374) The Levels Model for Axininca Campa

(McCarthy & Prince 1993: 24)

Each level has its own distinct constraint hierarchy and the output of one level becomes the input to the next.

They propose this model, in part, because the syllabification constraints at the prefix-root junction must be ranked differently from those which apply at the root-suffix juncture. At the prefix level, V + V and C + C sequences are resolved by deletion, not epenthesis. In other words, fill >> parse (or dep >> max).

(375) Violation of parse in Prefixal Allomorphy (McCarthy & Prince 1993: 25)

a. /ir-saik-i/ isaiki [isaiki] ‘will sit’

b. /no-ana-ni/ nanani [nanani] ‘my black die’

At the suffix level, however, the exact opposite holds true. Problematic sequences are resolved by epenthesis rather than deletion: parse >> fill.

Additionally, suffixal material must be able to “see” prefixal material. In other words, prefixal morphology and phonology cannot follow suffixal morphology and phonology. Some suffixes, for example, impose a bimoraic requirement on their base which can be satisfied by a combination of root and prefix.

(376) Bimoraicity of Base of Suffixation (McCarthy & Prince 1993: 25)

a. /na/ naTA-piro-~ ‘truly carry on shoulder’

b. /no-na/ no-na-piro-~ ‘I truly carry on shoulder’

It may be possible to account for this in the Multiplanar Model, as shown below, where prefixes and roots constitute a single plane, suffixes occupy their own plane, and both of these planes are syllabified together in the word plane.66 This model allows for different hierarchies to be associated with each plane as shown in (377). Additionally, on the word plane, suffixes which require a bimoraic base will be able to “see” the prefix and root combination.
(377) A Possibility for Axininca Campa in the Multiplanar Model


In this thesis I have shown that the output representations in Optimality Theory must be enriched in order to maintain the claim of parallelism. Additionally, I have argued that a parallel Multiplanar Model is preferable to a serial Levels Model without planes. This proposal raises as many questions as it answers. I have suggested that it may account for other data that have been analyzed as requiring levels, but this still needs to be shown. It is also possible that this model can be used to account for data that has been analyzed as requiring cyclicity (e.g., Kenstowicz 1994). Finally, once additional phenomena have been examined, a theory of planes must be developed. Specifically, the question arises as to what can trigger different planes. For example, can a single affix trigger a new plane? Through the exploration of this model, a more thorough understanding of the phenomena that resist a parallel analysis may be gained.


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