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PhilSoc Meeting with Dr Yuni Kim

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Dr Yuni Kim (University of Essex) will speak on ‘A modular perspective on consonant alternations in Finnish and Amuzgo stem formation’.

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This paper examines the division of labour between phonology and morphology in the stem allomorphy of two typologically different languages, Amuzgo (Oto-Manguean) and Finnish (Uralic). Both exhibit complex systems of stem-consonant alternations that, depending on the specific consonant and/or lexical item involved, run the gamut from phonologically transparent to apparently arbitrary in identical morphological contexts. By factoring out productive phonological processes, we can establish a lexical continuum from single underlying stems, to stem allomorphs connected by unproductive phonological rules, to stem-allomorph sets whose relationships cannot be mapped by conventional formal operations of phonology. For Amuzgo noun plurals, the identification of purely phonological processes reduces the patterns to a core of n- prefixation plus the alternations ʃ ~ k and ts/tʃ/w ~ Ø. I discuss the extent to which these quasi-phonological alternations can be understood theoretically in terms of abstract scales (Mortensen 2006). In Finnish verbs, there are many classes of exceptions (some surface, some deeper) to the basic phonological conditions on consonant gradation, along with parallels to other stem alternations that fall outside the gradation system. For these cases, I adopt the stratal framework of Bermúdez-Otero (2012, 2013), in particular the twin mechanisms of stem storage and lexical redundancy rules, to capture generalizations without placing disproportionate burden on either the phonology or the lexicon.

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