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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation investigates the phenomenon of dissimilation from a theoretical perspective, with special attention to crosslinguistic patterns. After first arguing that the previous accounts based on the Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP) (Leben 1973, McCarthy 1979, 1986) are not satisfactory, I propose an alternative theory of identity avoidance, G sc ENERALIZED OCP (GOCP) which generalizes the applicability of the traditional OCP to a wider range of phenomena, not just autosegmental (i.e. featural) ones. My proposal asserts that identity avoidance between two elements in sequence is fundamental to linguistic theory, an idea that can be characterized by a universal constraint governing various types of dissimilatory phenomena. This concept is implemented within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993, McCarthy and Prince 1993a,b), which provides the flexibility for constraints to be both violable and rankable. Contrary to the traditional OCP based approach which is bound by various representational properties such as feature geometry and underspecification, the proposed approach abandons this representational dependency in favor of the richly articulated constraint-based system. Based on the data collected from 57 language cases, I then examine the various factors that play a role in dissimilation, including the elements involved, their adjacency relations, and the domain of dissimilation. I demonstrate that the GOCP constitutes a consistent formal apparatus on the one hand, and the versatility to accommodate the complexity of dissimilation patterns on the other. Moreover, it is shown that the present approach formally unifies the characterization of both the similarity effects and blocking effects by directly incorporating Local Conjunction as a uniform mechanism of accounting for the Similarity effect, OCP-subsidiary feature phenomena. As a result, these phenomena need not require novel theoretical devices for each case, but rather are construed as instances of the combination of multiple GOCP constraints.
Degree ProgramGraduate College