Chapter published in:Beyond Markedness in Formal Phonology
Edited by Bridget D. Samuels
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 241] 2017
► pp. 153–190
Markedness and formalising phonological representations
As a linguistic concept, markedness is in trouble (Hale & Reiss 2000, 2008; Blevins 2004; Haspelmath 2006; Samuels 2011; Reiss 2017). Accepting many of these criticisms and conclusions, this chapter, nevertheless, claims that there is space for markedness in formal phonology. By examining syllable structure from a highly representational viewpoint, I conclude that ‘markedness by complexity’ does have explanatory value and that markedness is explicable in terms of ‘structural complexity’ and ‘length of description’. The core demonstration is based on Charette’s (1990, 1991, 1992) formal typology of consonant clusters (CCs). These papers contain important implicational universals that Charette relates directly to her representations. My contribution will be to enrich the typology and reorganize those principles and parameters into a decision tree or parameter hierarchy that derives the implicational universals. Moreover, the number of parameter settings (the depth in the parameter hierarchy) increases the markedness of the resultant grammar. Crucially, each parametric ‘yes’ setting corresponds to an extra empty phonological category or extra ability to license, or reflects the distance between heads and dependents in the representation. For this reason, markedness is not merely a ‘metaphor’ ‘for a cognitive state’ (Haspelmath 2006), it is directly convertible into linguistic categories. This markedness is not part of the online computation of forms (contra Optimality Theory) and markedness statements cannot be re-ranked to obtain different grammars. However, markedness is one step in the chain of explanation for: (a) the apparent step-wise variation of complexity and implicational universals of consonant clusters, (b) the Trubetzkoy hypothesis.
Keywords: empty categories, markedness, parameter hierarchies, strict CV phonology, phonological complexity
Published online: 16 November 2017
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