• Against [lateral]: Evidence from Chinese Sign Language and American Sign Language

      Ann, Jean; Myers, James; Pérez, Patricia E.; University of Arizona (Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 1990)
      American Sign Language (ASL) signs are claimed to be composed of four parameters: handshape, location, movement (Sto]çoe 1960) and palm orientation (Battison 1974). This paper focuses solely on handshape, that is, the configuration of the thumb and the fingers in a given sign. Handshape is significant in ASL and Chinese Sign Language (CSL); that is, minimal pairs exist for handshape in each. Thus, the two ASL signs in (1) differ in one parameter: the handshapes are different, but the location, palm orientation and movement are the same. Similarly, the two CSL signs in (2) differ in one parameter: handshape. A logical next question asks if handshapes are further divisible into parts; more specifically, are handshapes composed of distinctive features? This question is not new; in fact, researchers have made many proposals for ASL handshape features (Lane, Boyes -Braem and Bellugi, 1979; Mandel, 1981; Liddell and Johnson, 1985; Sandler, 1989; Corina and Sagey, 1988 and others). This paper focuses on the proposal of Corina and Sagey (1988). In Section 2, I outline the proposed system for the distinctive handshapes of ASL, of which [lateral] is a part. Then using data from ASL and CSL, I give three arguments in support of the claim that there is not sufficient justification in ASL or CSL for the feature [lateral]. First, I show in Section 3 that the prediction which follows from the claim that [lateral] applies only to the thumb, namely that the thumb behaves differently from the other fingers, is not borne out by CSL data. Second, I argue in Section 4 that since other features (proposed by Corina and Sagey, 1988) can derive the same phonetic effects as [lateral], [lateral] is unnecessary to describe thumb features in either ASL or CSL. Third, in Section 5, I use ASL and CSL data to argue that the notion of fingers as "specified" or "unspecified ", although intuitively pleasing, should be discarded. If this notion cannot be used, the feature [lateral] does not uniquely identify a particular set of handshapes. I show that CSL data suggests that two other features, [contact to palm] and [contact to thumb] are independently needed. With these two features, and the exclusion of [lateral], the handshapes of both ASL and CSL can be explained. In Section 6, the arguments against [lateral] are summarized.
    • Deriving Abstract Representations Directly from the Level of Connected Speech

      Bourgeois, Thomas C.; Myers, James; Pérez, Patricia E.; University of Arizona (Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 1990)
    • Swati and Kikuyu Reduplication: Evidence Against Exhaustive Copy

      Peng, Long; Myers, James; Pérez, Patricia E.; University of Arizona (Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 1990)
      Two intriguing properties of reduplicative affixes are that they are invariant in shape or weight and that their segmental makeup is dependent upon the base to which they are attached. Previous autosegmental explanations of shape- invariance and base- dependent melody adopt two mechanisms: i) a skeletal template to account for the consistency in weight and ii) a copying mechanism that transfers base segmental content into a reduplicative template (Marantz 1982, Broselow and McCarthy 1984, and Levin 1985). These accounts have since come under attack for a number of reasons. One major criticism concerns the unconstrained nature of templates; in, principle., any string of skeletal slots can be licensed as a template under these earlier accounts (Clements 1985, McCarthy and Prince 1986, 1987, and Steriade 1988). As a means of coping with this problem, McCarthy and Prince (1986, 1987) propose that reduplicative affixes be characterised by prosodically defined templates: i) core syllables (ad, ii) light syllables (σ(μ)), iii) heavy syllables (σ(μμ)), iv) syllables (σ), v) bimoraic feet (F(μμ)), vi) iambic feet (F(μμμ)), vii) disyllabic feet (F(σσ)), and viii) prosodic words. An important contribution of prosodic templates is that they establish prosodic constituency as a criterion for constraining templates, for a unit that does not correspond to a prosodic constituent can never be licenced as a reduplicative template. In addition, McCarthy and Prince (1986, 1987) exploit a copying mechanism. Copying can take two forms: i) an entire sequence of base segmental melody can be targeted for copying; or ii) a portion of it can be targeted for copying as long as that portion is prosodically defined or "circumscribed" (McCarthy and Prince 1990). In either case, copying is selective in that it excludes suprasegmental structures. Hence, I will refer to this model as Selective Copy. In contrast with Selective Copy, Steriade (1988) puts forward a different prosodic model of reduplication. Within her model, shape- invariance results from an interplay of weight and syllable markedness parameters. Among the weight parameters are: i) light syllables, ii) monosyllabic feet, iii) bimoraic feet, iv) disyllabic feet. These weight parameters differ from prosodic templates posited by Selective Copy. They are not templates that possess independent prosodic structures even though they are stated in terms of prosodic units that specify which prosodic constituent is targeted as the reduplicant. This conception of weight parameters forces a different copying apparatus. Copying must be exhaustive: it must target both the segmental melody and the prosodic structure of the base. This is critical; without the prosodic constituents of the base, weight parameters cannot select which unit of the copied base to retain as the reduplicant. In the following, I will refer to this model as Exhaustive Copy. This brief contrast demonstrates two radical differences between Selective Copy and Exhaustive Copy: i) templates vs. parameters and ii) selective vs. exhaustive copying. These differences impose a further contrast in expressing insertion of base - independent melody. Whereas insertion can make reference to the prosodic units of a template with Selective Copy, it cannot rely on parameters with Exhaustive Copy. Insertion can and must be defined by an existing prosodic structure of the base. This distinction becomes significant in examining Swati diminutive reduplication, which shows a base-independent vowel a in its reduplicant. What is important about this melody is that it is present only when a base cannot supply sufficient segmental content for a foot-sized reduplicant lingi-lingis 'resemble a little' vs. goba-gob 'bend a little'. The question addressed here is whether or not these two proposals can express a insertion. I demonstrate that a insertion cannot be formally stated by Exhaustive Copy. Crucial to the argument is that an insufficient base is lacking not only in segmental melody but also in prosodic constituency essential for defining the locus of insertion. Motivation for an insertion treatment takes two steps. First, internal evidence from passive formations suggests that i functions as the default vowel -not a. Second, this a behaves in Kikuyu like an architypical instance of "prespecification" in that it overrides any vowel in the base. As mentioned in footnote 4, Kikuyu and Swati are both members of the Bantu family. Moreover, reduplication as a diminutive marker is an important and widespread property of Bantu morphology (Meinhof 1932). This suggests that Swati a should be treated on a par with Kikuyu a since it cannot be filled in by default. The layout of this paper is as follows. Section 1 contrasts the two models of reduplication through examples from Tagalog. Section 2 applies Selective Copy to an account of Kikuyu and Swati reduplication. In particular, I demonstrate that Swati a requires an insertion treatment in consideration of both internal and external evidence. Section 3 spells out the argument against Exhaustive Copy from Swati a. In Section 4, I discuss some further implications of the templatic vs. parametric opposition for an overall theory of morphology. The critical point emerging from this discussion is that morphological processes such as Semitic roots and Japanese hypocoristics require access to templates; the parametric approach falls short on this score.