Relational hierarchies in Optimality Theory: The case of syllable contact

Maria Gouskova

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    A number of phonological laws require adjacent elements to stand a certain distance apart from each other on some prominence scale. For example, according to the Syllable Contact Law, the greater the sonority slope between the coda and the following onset, the better. Languages such as Faroese, Icelandic, Sidamo, Kazakh and Kirghiz select different thresholds for an acceptable sonority slope. This article proposes a theory for deriving hierarchies of relational constraints such as the Syllable Contact Law from prominence scales in the constraint set CON in Optimality Theory. The proposal is compared to two alternative approaches, non-hierarchical constraints and the local conjunction of constraint hierarchies, which are argued to make undesirable empirical and theoretical predictions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)201-250
    Number of pages50
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 2004

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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