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Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

Allomorph selection and lexical preferences:

Two case studies§
Eulàlia Bonet a,*, Maria-Rosa Lloret b,1, Joan Mascaró a,2
Filologia Catalana, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
Filologia Catalana, Universitat de Barcelona, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Received 15 March 2006; received in revised form 28 April 2006; accepted 28 April 2006
Available online 14 August 2006

Phonologically conditioned allomorphy is sometimes determined by universal marking conditions
derived from low-ranked constraints, which is viewed as an effect of the emergence of the unmarked
(TETU) in optimality theory. In this paper we present two case studies that make crucial use of allomorph
selection as TETU but also of an additional property of the lexical representation of allomorphs, namely
lexical ordering of allomorphs. The first case is the puzzling selection of definite marker in Haitian Creole
(analyzed as an instance of anti-markedness in previous OT works), which yields to an appropriate analysis
in terms of allomorph ordering. In the second case study, gender allomorph selection in Catalan, we propose
a constraint RESPECT that ensures compliance with idiosyncratic lexical specifications, which further
interacts with allomorph selection.
# 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Allomorphy; Lexical representation; Markedness; Haitian Creole; Catalan

1. Introduction

It is a well-known fact that languages show irregularities in the selection of certain morphs. In
some cases the choice is indeterminate and leads to free variation, as in Spanish imperfect

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 26th GLOW Colloquium (Lund, April 2003) and the 3rd
Mediterranean Morphology Meeting (Catania, September 2003).
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 935812361; fax: +34 935812782.
E-mail addresses: (E. Bonet), (M.-R. Lloret),
(J. Mascaró).
Tel.: +34 934035633; fax: +34 934035698.
Tel.: +34 935812352; fax: +34 935812782.

0024-3841/$ – see front matter # 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
904 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

subjunctive markers -ra, -se ([Qa][se]) in (1a) or German diminutive suffix -lein, -chen
([laIn][ç3n]) in (1b)1:
(1) a. 1sg.-3pl. of cantar ‘to sing’ b. Diminutives
canta-ra canta-se Städ-chen ‘town’
canta-ra-s canta-se-s Jesuskind-lein ‘Baby Jesus’
canta-ra canta-se Rös-chen Rös-lein ‘rose’
cantá-ra-mos cantá-se-mos Bäum-chen Bäum-lein ‘tree’
canta-ra-is canta-se-is Sträss-chen Sträss-lein ‘street’
canta-ra-n canta-se-n
We might refer to cases like (1) as free allomorphy. However, most cases have a tight
distribution, each allomorph appearing in a given grammatical context (controlled allomorphy).
The context can be of different sorts, often morphological, like in stem selection in irregular
inflection or derivation (in English are is selected by 2sg.pres., 2pl.pres. and 3pl.pres., am by
1sg.pres., etc.). But the context can also be phonological ( phonologically conditioned allomorphy).
Here two very different situations arise (although in many cases it is not clear beforehand to which
one a given empirical case belongs). The phonological conditioning contexts can be arbitrary,
unnatural. Under such a condition of arbitrary phonologically conditioned allomorphy the analysis
must also incorporate arbitrary lexical listing of allomorphs and their contexts one by one, i.e.
subcategorization of each allomorph for the contextual frames that select it. One such case is the
Turkish causative suffix, which is -t after polisyllabic stems ending in V, l, or r, and -dir elsewhere. It
is difficult to see any natural phonological connection between the shape of the allomorphs -t/-dir
and their respective hosts. But in other cases there is regular (natural) phonologically conditioned
allomorphy: the conditioning follows a natural phonological distribution. There is hence a
generalization to be captured, which is missed by any analysis based on subcategorization, as has
been noted long before; see, among others, Pullum and Zwicky (1988:262), Spencer (1991:229).2
We will concentrate on such cases and therefore we will not deal with arbitrary phonologically
conditioned allomorphy, or other kinds of allomorphy.
A typical case of regular phonologically conditioned allomorphy is allomorphic choice
dictated by best satisfaction of better (less marked) syllable structure. We illustrate this with the
Korean topic-focus marker, which has two allomorphs, -un (2a) and -nun (2b) (examples from
Lapointe, 2001:267–269):
(2) a. pap-un *pap-nun ‘cooked rice’
Kim-un *Kim-nun
b. ai-nun *ai-un ‘child’
Cho-nun *Cho-un
Notice that an analysis based on deletion of n or insertion of n is untenable, since in Korean forms
like *pap-nun, *Cho-un are not phonologically ill formed, because the language allows codas,

Although there is in general free variation with respect to the German diminutive suffix, some specific contexts favor
or demand a specific allomorph: xx, ll, and also gl, El are disfavored: *Bächchen ‘stream-dim.’, etc. (See, for instance,
Fleischer et al., 1983:258). Examples are from
The idea that all allomorphy should be explained by the same mechanism seems to be assumed by some authors,
either implicitly or explicitly (for instance, Paster, 2005: section 5, states that subcategorization ‘‘avoids the problem of
having multiple theoretical mechanisms to model a single phenomenon’’). But ‘allomorphy’ is a (vague) descriptive
concept that has no privileged theoretical status. An adequate theory should account for observable phonetic variation of
morphs; concepts and mechanisms are justified to the extent that the theory is adequate.
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 905

e.g. [n3t] ‘face’, and onsetless syllables, e.g. [irCm] ‘name’.3 This distribution can successfully
be dealt with as an effect of the emergence of the unmarked (TETU, McCarthy and Prince, 1994),
as has been proposed by several authors (e.g. Drachman et al., 1996; Kager, 1996; Lapointe,
2001; Mascaró, 1996a,b; Perlmutter, 1998; Tranel, 1996; Rubach and Booij, 2001). Since Korean
allows codas, DEP and MAX must dominate ONSET and NOCODA, given that deletion or insertion
are not used as repair strategies. But when the allomorphs /un/, /nun/ are listed in the lexical
representation of the topic-focus morpheme they both satisfy DEP and MAX, competition being
solved now by ONSET and NOCODA:

In cases like Korean the idiosyncratic information supplied by the lexicon is minimal: it just
states that there are two allomorphs, /un/ and /nun/; their distribution follows from universal
marking conditions derived from low-ranked constraints.
The two case studies we discuss in this paper make crucial use of allomorph selection as TETU,
but also of an additional property of the lexical representation of morphemes, namely lexical
ordering of allomorphs as proposed in Mascaró (2005). Allomorphic ordering is illustrated with
infinitive marker selection in Baix Empordà Catalan (Mascaró, 2005:11–17). In this Catalan variety
r never assimilates to a following consonant, as shown in (4a), but the infinitive morpheme /Q/
exceptionally assimilates to a following pronominal clitic-initial consonant (4b)4:

(4) a. does not assimilate b. Exceptional behavior of inf./ /

pe[r n]adal ‘by Christmas’ Non-assimilatory environments
per[r m]olts ‘for many’ posa[Q-u] ‘to put it’
ma[r n]egre ‘black sea’ posa[Q-i] ‘to put there’
pe[r l]o bo ‘for the good things’ Assimilatory environments
pe[r t]u ‘for you’ posa [n-n3] ‘to put some’
co[r s]a ‘healthy heart’ posa [l-l3] ‘to put it-fem.’
posa [m-m3] ‘to put me’
posa[t-t3] ‘to put you’
posa[(s)-s3] ‘to put oneself’

The phonological similarity among allomorphs is of course due to the fact that external allomorphy originates through
morphologization of older phonological processes (Mascaró, 2005:22–25) in many cases (but not all, see section 3).
r-tensing, present in examples like [p3r-n3ðál] or *[puzár-l3] (cf. (5a)), which occurs in coda position is an
independent phenomenon irrelevant to the purposes of this paper.
906 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

If the infinitive contains the set of allomorphs Inf.=/Q, n, m, l, t, s/, low-ranked AGREE-C
will determine allomorphic choice correctly, as shown in (5) for posar-la [puzál-l3]. In
the cases in (4a), e.g. ‘per’ for the prepositional clitic /p3Q/, since there is no allomorphy,
GEN-modified candidates like [p3n-n3ðál] from /p3Q-n3dal/ will be discarded by IDENT(F) in
favor of [p3r-n3ðál].

But in a non-assimilatory environment, like posa[Q-u] in (4b), AGREE-C will be vacuously

satisfied by all candidates ([puzá-Q-u], [puzá-n-u], [puzá-m-u], [puzá-l-u], [puzá-t-u],
[puzá-s-u]). Since the correct output is [puzá-Q-u], the allomorph /Q/ has to be given some
priority over the rest: it is the lexically unmarked allomorph. The set of allomorphs must be
viewed then as a partially ordered set: /Q> (n, m, l, t, s)/, i.e. Q precedes n, m, l, t, s and these are
unordered with respect to each other. The constraint PRIORITY demands faithfulness to this
ordering, i.e. favors the choice of the unmarked allomorph5:

(6) PRIORITY: Respect lexical priority (ordering) of allomorphs.

Given an input containing allomorphs m1, m2, . . ., mn, and a candidate
containing in correspondence with mi, PRIORITY assigns as many
violation marks as the depth of ordering between mi and the highest
dominating morph(s).

It might seem odd to list all the infinitive variants (Q, n, m, l, t, s). The alternative is the equivalent to a minor rule,
with the same apparent loss of generalization, but with the additional drawback of listing irregularities in the
phonological component, instead of listing them in the lexicon. This question is discussed in more detail in Mascaró
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 907

Our approach to phonologically conditioned allomorphy is compatible with different theories

of morphology, e.g. with Distributed Morphology (Halle and Marantz, 1993). Contrary to cases
of allomorphy conditioned by the morphology, where the choice of allomorph is determined by
Vocabulary Insertion, in cases of phonologically conditioned allomorphy all allomorphs are
inserted, and the OT-phonology determines which one is the best choice. Under this view the
Korean topic/focus marker consists of the Vocabulary entry in (8a), while in Baix Empordà
Catalan the infinitive marker consists of the Vocabulary entry in (8b):

(8) a. topic/focus $ {un, nun}

b. infinitive $ {Q > n, m, l, t, s}

In the next section we examine an apparently puzzling case, definite marker selection in
Haitian Creole, which yields to an appropriate analysis in terms of morpheme ordering. In the
second case study, gender allomorph selection in Catalan (section 3), we propose a constraint
RESPECT that ensures compliance with idiosyncratic lexical specifications, that interacts with
PRIORITY in a case in which a morpheme consists of a set of totally ordered three allomorphs.6

2. Determiner allomorphy in Haitian Creole

2.1. The problem

As illustrated in section 1 with the Korean example, in phonologically conditioned

allomorphy a very common pattern is that the allomorph chosen is the one that best satisfies
markedness constraints. In such cases, if a morpheme has a CV allomorph and a V allomorph
(both suffixal), it will most often be the case that the CV allomorph is chosen after vowels
(avoiding the appearance of a coda) and that the Vallomorph is chosen after consonants (avoiding
a hiatus). The example from Haitian Creole we discuss in this section seems to be a
counterexample to this pattern because the CV allomorph appears after a consonant (creating a

McCarthy and Wolf (2005, section 6) propose an extension of their treatment of paradigmatic gaps (ineffability) to
deal with cases similar to the ones analyzed here which is based on lexical ordering of allomorphs but resorts to MPARSE
instead of PRIORITY.
908 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

coda otherwise unnecessary) and the V allomorph appears after a vowel (creating an unnecessary
hiatus). This pattern led Klein (2003) to treat Haitian Creole as a case of anti-markedness.
Haitian Creole and other Antillean creoles exhibit allomorphy in the suffixal definite
determiner: -la and -a. Unexpectedly, though, -la is chosen after a stem ending in a consonant or a
glide, and -a is chosen after a stem ending in a vowel. In the latter case the output form surfaces
with a hiatus after a stem-final a and with a glide when the stem ends in other vowels. These facts
are illustrated in (9) and (10).

(9) -la chosen after a stem-final consonant or glide

/liv/ ‘book’ [livla] ‘the book’
/Rat/ ‘cat’ [Ratla] ‘the cat’
/malad/ ‘sick’ [maladla] ‘the sick (person)’
/bagaj/ ‘thing’ [bagajla] ‘the thing’

(10) -a chosen after a stem-final vowel

a. presence of a hiatus, with a stem-final [a]
/papa/ ‘father’ [papaa] ‘the father’
b. absence of a hiatus, because of the insertion of a glide, with other stem-final vowels
/papje/ ‘paper’ [papjeja] ‘the paper’
/lapli/ ‘rain’ [laplija] ‘the rain’
/bato/ ‘boat’ [batowa] ‘the boat’
/tu/ ‘hole’ [tuwa] ‘the hole’

In (10b), the front glide [j] appears after a front vowel, and the back rounded glide [w] appears
after a back rounded vowel.7
At first sight, these examples seem to illustrate an emergence of the marked, rather than an
emergence of the unmarked, for the following reasons: (i) in the examples in (9) the allomorph -la
forces a violation of the constraint NOCODA, a violation that could be absent with the choice of the
allomorph -a (cf. [] versus *[]); (ii) in the example in (10a) the choice of the allomorph -a
causes a violation of ONSET and even the Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP), which would
be inexistent with the allomorph -la (cf. [] versus *[]); (iii) the choice of the
allomorph -a in (10b) causes a violation of DEP (there is epenthesis of a glide), a violation that would
have been avoided if the allomorph -la had been chosen (cf. [pa.pje,ja] versus *[]).

2.2. Previous approaches

The behavior of the definite determiner in Haitian Creole has been analyzed, within
Government Phonology, by Cadely (2002) and, more explicitly, by Nikiema (1999) (see also
Bhatt and Nikiema, 2000). These accounts assume a single underlying morph -la (like previous
approaches), and for both authors, the initial consonant of the suffix is underlyingly a floating
segment. Cadely proposes a condition (rather, a stipulation) according to which the initial
consonant of the suffix is associated only when preceded by a consonant. Nikiema (1999)
proposes that the final consonant of the stem in examples like liv is the onset of a syllable with an

For lack of relevance to the issue discussed in this paper, we ignore here stems with the mid-low vowels [e] and [&],
which show variation with respect to the presence or absence of an epenthetic glide before the determiner. For the same
reason, we ignore the facts concerning nasalization: after a nasal consonant, the determiner la surfaces as na, and vowels
can be nasalized. For a detailed description of nasalization in Haitian Creole, see Cadely (2002), for instance.
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 909

empty nucleus; under this configuration the initial consonant of the suffix (the floating l) needs to
be associated in order to be licensed, something unnecessary when the stem ends in a vowel. For
both authors, the insertion of a glide is not at all related to the choice of allomorph but is
suspiciously treated as a later phonetic operation to avoid hiatus; at the output of the phonology,
examples like [papjeja] have the same structure as [papaa], namely ‘papjea’. In this way they try
to avoid the possibility that the floating /l/ is associated in order to avoid hiatus.
Within OT, the morphophonology of the definite determiner in Haitian Creole and other
Antillean creoles has been analyzed in Klein (2003). Contrary to previous approaches, Klein
(2003) assumes that the definite determiner has two underlying allomorphs, /la/ and /a/; and,
following Rubach and Booij (2001) and Tranel (1996), he further assumes that these two
allomorphs are freely available as inputs. In order to account for the alleged anti-markedness
effect, he resorts to the Lexical Representation as Pure Markedness (LRPM) approach, developed
in Klein (2000) and inspired by ideas in Golston (1996). The crucial point of his analysis is the
claim that the allomorph /la/ is lexically specified with a desideratum which formally expresses
the need to appear after a consonant-final stem. The origin of this desideratum is the constraint
STEM-FINAL-NOCODA, reproduced below ((11) corresponds to Klein, 2003: (14)).
(11) STEM-FINAL-NOCODA: Stems must end in an open syllable.
Align the right edge of the stem with the right edge of a syllable nucleus.
STEM-FINAL-NOCODA is violated by candidates like liv-la. The desideratum itself expresses the
will to violate STEM-FINAL-NOCODA, and is contained in the lexical representation of the
allomorph /la/, which has the form in (12): this allomorph requires a violation of STEM-
FINAL-NOCODA ((12) corresponds to Klein, 2003: (15)) :

When this desideratum is not followed by a candidate (as in *papa-la), this candidate, according
to Klein (2003), incurs a violation of the faithfulness constraint MAX (given that a specification in
the input is not preserved in the output).9 For the allomorph -a the desideratum does not exist and,
therefore, candidates with this allomorph do not violate MAX.
In order to account for all the facts other constraints are needed. In addition to the more
common and accepted constraints ONSET and DEP, and constraints ensuring the right choice of
epenthetic glide, Klein (2003) makes crucial use of the constraint R-ALIGN-STEM-SYLL (also
crucial in our proposal, to be presented below), which is also commonly accepted, with different
names ((13) corresponds to Klein, 2003: (16)).
(13) R-ALIGN-STEM-SYLL: Stems must end in a syllable.
Align the right edge of the stem with the right edge of a syllable.
This constraint is violated by candidates like *liv-a with the syllabification [].

Klein uses the term ‘alternating [la]’ to refer to the Haitian Creole case as opposed to other creoles where only one of
the morphs exists, [la] or [a].
Note that Klein’s interpretation of MAX is peculiar, because in OT MAX applies to representational elements that are
interpreted phonetically when the constraint is satisfied.
910 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

The tableaux in (14) and (15) illustrate the basics of Klein’s analysis with the examples papa-a
and liv-la, respectively ((14) reproduces his (17), and (15) reproduces his (18)). Recall that the
representations at the end of the first row correspond to the lexical representation. The asterisk
between angled brackets used by Klein (2003) (<*>) indicates that the input violation of
STEM-FINAL-NOCODA has been cancelled; this causes a violation of MAX.

In (14) the candidate [papaa], (14b), is chosen because the candidate *[papala], (14a), cannot
satisfy the desideratum for la (it wants to violate STEM-FINAL-NOCODA, which means that it wants
to attach to a stem ending in a consonant).10 In (15) the lexical desideratum, controlled by highly
ranked MAX, is satisfied by the candidate [] (15a), which moreover does not violate ONSET, a
constraint violated by its most immediate competitor, *[liv.a] (15d). Notice that the also high-
ranked constraint R-ALIGN-STEM-SYLL rules out the candidate in (15c), *[].
We postpone the discussion of examples with glide insertion until we present our proposal,
which incorporates the ideas of Klein (2003) in this respect.
Other creoles do not show allomorphy in the definite determiner. Guyanese, for instance, has a
single morph /a/, while Guadeloupean has a single morph /la/. Klein (2003) discusses these cases

In (14), the only candidate with the -a allomorph appears with a heterosyllabic [a.a] sequence. Long vowels are not
allowed in Haitian Creole, which means that the relevant constraint must be highly ranked. Moreover, candidates with a
long vowel, like [pa.paa], violate R-ALIGN-STEM-SYLL.
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 911

explicitly, but does not explain why only a creole with allomorphy should have a lexical
desideratum in the input of the type proposed for Haitian Creole. In our account, based on
ordered allomorphs, the existing pattern follows naturally: if there are two or more allomorphs
they can be ordered, but if there is only one morph, there is no possible choice, by definition.
The fact that some morphemes are restricted to certain phonological contexts has been known
for a long time. For instance, the English comparative suffix -er attaches only to a base consisting
of a foot, and the English suffix -al attaches only to oxytone bases. In these cases, then, the base
has to meet some segmental or prosodic requirements. However, the type of lexical desiderata
proposed by Klein (2003) are of a new sort and imply an important theoretical change. In this
case the morpheme does not want to meet certain requirements; instead it wants to violate
specific constraints (in a way, it is the opposite to grounding). This kind of negative desiderata
gives an undesired increase of power to the theory. In the next section we show that an account
with ordered allomorphs makes the use of negative desiderata unnecessary.
Before we move on, a further observation on the number of allomorphs posited is in order. As
we have seen, Klein (2003) assumes that the determiner has two allomorphs, /la/ and /a/, while
previous approaches (Cadely, 2002 or Nikiema, 1999) claim that there is a single underlying form
/la/. Within Optimality Theory it would be very difficult to assume a single underlying form /la/.
The change to [a] (through /l/ deletion) should be left to markedness constraints but, as has been
noticed, this type of constraints would predict the opposite distribution: markedness constraints
could favor deletion after a consonant-final stem, like liv, in order to avoid a coda, but we actually
find liv-la, not *liv-a; after a V-final stem we would predict [la], because deletion of the l would
cause a violation of ONSET and the OCP (cf. papa-a, *papa-la). In addition, it would be very hard
to explain why after stems ending in a non-low vowel, the /l/ is dropped but a glide is inserted
(cf. [papjeja], *[papjela]). This is a problem also for approaches framed in Government
Phonology, as noticed earlier in the text. Choosing /a/ as the single underlying form would not
improve matters. In order to keep a single underlying form one would have to resort to ad hoc
constraints, hence enriching the grammar unnecessarily (and dangerously). In the approach to be
presented below, all the constraints are universal, and the distribution of [la] and [a] derive from
allomorphy and the way allomorphs are listed in the lexicon.

2.3. ‘La’ and ‘a’ as ordered allomorphs

Negative desiderata of the type proposed by Klein (2003) are not needed for Haitian Creole if
one assumes that -la and -a are ordered allomorphs. We claim, then, that the lexical entry
corresponding to the definite determiner is as follows:

(16) Definite determiner: {a>la}

One of the constraints proposed by Klein (2003), which also plays a crucial role in our account
is R-ALIGN-STEM-SYLL (henceforth R-ALIGN). This is one of the constraints that demands
coincidence between morphological and prosodic edges (here between the edge of the root or
stem and the edge of a syllable). This type of Alignment constraints have been widely used in OT
(see Prince and Smolensky, [1993] 2004; McCarthy and Prince, 1993; Kager, 1999b; McCarthy,
2002, for instance).
Besides PRIORITY, the only new constraint that has to be added is a constraint related to the
Syllable Contact Law (see Murray and Vennemann, 1983 and Clements, 1990, among others).
We follow the idea in Gouskova (2001, 2002) that there is a family of Syllable Contact relational
912 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

constraints, which impose preference of syllable contacts with higher decreasing sonority across
syllable boundaries (the greater the fall, the better). This family is a fixed hierarchy of constraints.
The most highly ranked member of this family is the constraint *C.V, informally stated in (17):

(17) *C.V: Avoid a syllable ending in a consonant followed by a syllable starting with a
vowel (the worst syllable contact).

The tableaux in (18) and (19) illustrate how the choice of allomorph is made. The facts
concerning glide insertion will be incorporated later.

As can be observed in (18), PRIORITY must be ranked above ONSET (PRIORITY >> ONSET); (19)
shows that R-ALIGN and *C.V must be ranked above PRIORITY (R-ALIGN, *C.V >> PRIORITY).11 In
(19) the candidate with the /a/ allomorph either violates the syllable contact constraint or, if
resyllabified, the alignment constraint, whereas the other allomorph, /la/, violates neither. We
examine resyllabification in normal conditions (i.e. when there is no allomorphy) later in this
In (10b) it was shown that when the stem ends in a non-low vowel, the allomorph -a is chosen
and a glide is inserted avoiding a hiatus. The glide [j] is inserted after front vowels, and [w] is
inserted after back rounded vowels, a typical pattern for glide insertion across languages. The
examples in (10b) appear repeated in (20).

(20) Glide insertion

/papje/ ‘paper’ [papjeja] ‘the paper’
/lapli/ ‘rain’ [laplija] ‘the rain’
/bato/ ‘boat’ [batowa] ‘the boat’
/tu/ ‘hole’ [tuwa] ‘the hole’

An anonymous reviewer asks why the choice of allomorph could not be made in the lexicon (or by Vocabulary
insertion): la would be specified as selecting stems ending in a consonant or glide, and a would be the elsewhere case. We
reject this type of approach for Haitian Creole, Catalan and the other cases mentioned earlier because, as argued at the
beginning of section 1, just stating the distribution misses a phonological generalization; the choice is not random but
systematic, and the systematicity is directly related to phonological information (being a consonant or a glide, in the case
of Haitian Creole).
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 913

In Klein (2003) the nature of the epenthetic glide is determined by the two featural agreement
constraints reproduced below ((21) corresponds to his (22)).

(21) Featural agreement constraints

(a) AGR-FRONT: A vowel and a following glide must agree in [FRONT]
(b) AGR-ROUND: A vowel and a following glide must agree in [ROUND]

The tableaux in (22), (23) and (24) illustrate the choice of epenthetic glide and the impossibility of
glide epenthesis after a low vowel. Needless to say, an inserted glide violates the constraint DEP;
(22), (23) and (24) correspond to Klein’s (24), (25) and (26), respectively. Notice that the constraints
that appear in the tableaux are all dominated by PRIORITY (not included), and candidates deriving
from the /la/ allomorph are all harmonically bounded by those deriving from /a/.

We adopt here the basics of Klein’s analysis for the choice of epenthetic glide.12 Nevertheless,
some details need to be commented on with regard to stems ending in a consonant, like liv. When
discussing such cases (see (19)), we showed how the choice of allomorph was made, without
including in the tableau candidates with the morph -a but with an epenthetic glide, like *[liv.wa]
or *[li.vwa]. In Klein’s approach this type of candidates are not considered but would not suppose
a problem for his analysis (they would be ruled out by DEP). In our approach we cannot resort to

A different question, addressed neither in Klein (2003) nor here, is why glottal stops, for instance, cannot be inserted
as epenthetic segments instead of glides. A discussion of these types of issues can be found in Rubach (2000) or, more
recently, in Uffmann (2005), for example.
914 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

DEP because, as shown in tableaux (18), (22) and (23), PRIORITY >> ONSET >> DEP, and,
therefore, PRIORITY would favor *[liv.wa] (or *[liv.ja]) over []. Candidates like *[liv.wa] are
ruled out, instead, by one of the constraints related to the Syllable Contact Law referred to earlier.
C.Vand G.C are worse syllable contacts than C.L contacts. A candidate [liv.wa] is dispreferred in
favor of [] because v.l is a better syllable contact than v.w. The partial hierarchy of syllable
contacts needed for Haitian Creole is given in (25).13

(25) *C.V, *C.G >> *C.L >> etc.

Candidates like *[liv.wa] are ruled out by *C.G. The tableau in (26) repeats the example in (19),
now with additional candidates. We exclude from the tableau the constraints AGR[FRONT] and
AGR[ROUND] because they are not relevant (they refer to a vowel and a following glide, a context
not met in this case).

The candidate [], in (26a), is the optimal candidate because it respects R-ALIGN-STEM-SYLL
and has a less bad syllable contact than its immediate competitor, *[liv.wa], in (26e).
One might wonder what the effects of R-ALIGN are in the rest of the language. Does having a
highly ranked R-ALIGN imply that all morphological edges and prosodic edges will coincide in
the language? The obvious answer is no: it all depends on the relative ranking of the constraints.
Haitian Creole has resyllabification across morphemes (see Valdman and Iskrova, 2003, for
instance), and in these cases the right edge of the root does not coincide with the right edge of a
syllable. The constraints introduced so far, with the proposed ranking, account readily for this
effect, as shown by the example [ ], from underlying /bobin+e/ ‘to roll up’; the
corresponding tableau appears in (27).

In Gouskova (2001, 2002) the syllable contact constraints are defined in terms of distance in the sonority scale:
*DIST+7 >> *DIST+6 >> *DIST+5 >>, etc. A contact t.w has a distance of +7, while t.l would have a distance of +5;
hence the latter contact is not as bad. For clarity and simplification, we adopt the schematic constraints in (25) and earlier
in the paper.
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 915

The alignment constraint and the constraints related to syllable contact are unranked with respect
to each other and leave all the relevant candidates even. Contrary to the cases of allomorphy
discussed up to now, PRIORITY is not relevant, and therefore the decision is left to the markedness
constraint ONSET and the faithfulness constraint DEP, which favor the candidate with resyllabi-
fication (27b).
An alternative way of getting effects similar to PRIORITY that one might consider is the
introduction of morphs via constraints, as proposed by Hammond (1995) and Russell (1995),
among others. In our case this would entail the existence of the constraints ARTICLE = a and
ARTICLE = la, and the ordering ARTICLE = a >> ONSET >> DEP >> ARTICLE = la. There are two
important reasons for rejecting such an approach. One is restrictivity: a universal grammar with
PRIORITY adds one constraint to the set, but morphemes introduced through constraints leave
open the possibility of adding as many constraints as morphemes. Enlarging the lexicon, on the
other hand, increases the number of outputs of a grammar but leaves the class of grammars
unchanged. The second basic problem with introducing lexical material through constraints is
that constraints are surface-oriented, whereas inputs are lexical material. Thus a lexical element
/la/ can undergo contextual changes like l assimilation, a deletion, etc., but a constraint stating
ARTICLE = la forces a unique phonetic interpretation of this morpheme, i.e. it predicts that
contextual changes will be blocked (Bonet, 2004). For other arguments against morpheme-
specific constraints, see Kager (in press).
There is another case of allomorphy mentioned by Klein (2003), from Korean, which gives
further support to our analysis. This case is discussed in Lapointe (2001), and Klein (2003)
accounts for it also in terms of desiderata in the LRPM model. In Korean, the nominal
conjunctive suffix has the allomorphs /kwa/ and /wa/. /kwa/ appears after stems ending in a
consonant (cf. pap-kwa ‘rice’), while /wa/ attaches to stems ending in a vowel (cf. ai-wa ‘child’).
This is the contrary one would expect under normal circumstances, and Lapointe (2001) proposes
to simply list the conditions under which each allomorph appears (kwa after a consonant, wa after
a vowel). Under the present approach, Korean does not differ at all from Haitian Creole. /wa/ and
/kwa/ are ordered allomorphs (/wa>kwa/). The constraints R-ALIGN-STEM-SYLL, *C.G and
PRIORITY will do the rest.
In the next section, a case of allomorphy in Catalan is discussed which seems to differ
radically from Haitian Creole, because it does not give the impression of an anti-markedness
effect. We will see, however, that it can be dealt with in essentially the same fashion, namely with
the idea that the different allomorphs (here three of them) are lexically ordered.

3. Atypical gender allomorphy in Catalan

3.1. The problem

In Catalan, plurals are regularly derived by adding the morph [s] to the singular (28a), but
unexpectedly some masculine plurals show up with the vowel [u] between the stem and the plural
morph (28b).14

The data presented in this section are from the standard variety of Central Catalan (which includes the variety spoken
in the Barcelona area). It is important to note, though, that the crucial facts concerning plural formation hold for all
Catalan dialects except for some phonological differences that are irrelevant to the issue being dealt with here (e.g. in
some dialects the vowel inserted in masculine plurals is [o] instead of [u] due to differences with respect to vowel
916 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

(28) a. [g t] – [g ts] ‘glass(es) (masc.)’

[ták3] – [ták3s] ‘stain(s) (fem.)’
b. [pás] – [pásus], *[páss] ‘step(s) (masc.)’
[gQás] – [gQásus], *[gQáss] ‘fat (masc., sg. – pl.)’

The appearance of [u] in (28b) avoids the OCP problem posed by sequences of sibilants.
However, in Catalan the regular epenthetic vowel is [3] (underlined henceforth, [3]), as the
examples in (29) illustrate.

(29) /templ/: [témpl3] ‘temple (masc.)’

/templ-s/: [témpl3s] ‘temples (masc.)’
/tendQ/: [t ndQ3] ‘tender (masc. sg.)’
/tendQ-s/: [t ndQ3s] ‘tender (masc. pl.)’
/stQiptis/: [3st ptis] ‘striptease’ (from English)

The fact that [u], and not [3], appears in the masculine plural forms of (28b) is related to
morphology as well, since in Catalan there is a masculine gender allomorph [u] in some cases. In
Catalan the stastistically most common masculine allomorph, the unmarked one, is ‘zero’
(represented as ‘Ø’ henceforth), as illustrated in (30a), but in certain lexically marked nominals
[u] appears instead, as in (30b). The allomorph [u] is not the only marked masculine allomorph
that Catalan has; the allomorph [3] also appears in few marked masculine nominals, as illustrated
in (30c). In a parallel way, the feminine has an unmarked allomorph, [3] (see (30d)), and a more
marked one Ø (see (30e)).15

(30) Masculine
a. /g&t-Ø/: [g t] /g&t-Ø-s/: [g ts] ‘glass(es)’
b. /mos-u/: [mósu] /mos-u-s/: [mósus] ‘lad(s)’
c. /paQ-3/: [páQ3] /paQ-3-s/: [páQ3s] ‘father(s)’
d. /mos-3/: [mós3] /mos-3-s/: [mós3s] ‘lass(es)’
e. /sal-Ø/: [sál] /sal-Ø-s/: [sáls] ‘salt(s)’

As shown by the examples in (30), in lexically determined forms the marked gender allomorphs
show up both in the singular and in the plural related forms, whereas the morpho-phonologically
conditioned [u] allomorph only appears in masculine plurals with an OCP-sibilant problem
(cf. (28b)). Interestingly enough, other words with an OCP-sibilant problem do show regular [3]
insertion, as illustrated in (31). This is the case, for example, in verbal inflection (31a), in
cliticization (31b), and in feminine forms with a marked Ø feminine allomorph and an
OCP-sibilant problem (30c). (Note that, as illustrated in (31b), regular cases of proclisis show
initial epenthesis when a vowel is needed for syllabification, and that the masculine counterparts
of (31c) with an OCP-problem show the [u] allomorph.)

In this paper we use the more traditional term gender marks in a broad sense. We could use notions like class markers,
word markers, and nominal markers with the same results. (See, among others, work by Harris, 1985, 1991, 1992;
Aronoff, 1994, and Oltra-Massuet and Arregi, 2005 on Spanish; Mascaró, 1985b; Lloret and Viaplana, 1992, 1997, 1998;
Lloret, 1998, and Oltra-Massuet, 1999 on Catalan.)
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 917

(31) a. /tus/: [tús] ‘s/he coughs’

/tus-s/: [tús3s] ‘you cough’
(cf. /d&Qm/: [d rm] ‘s/he sleeps’; /d rm-s/: [d rms] ‘you sleep’)
b. /suQt/: [súrt] ‘s/he exits’
/s#suQt/: [s3súrt] ‘one exits’
(cf. /indik3/: [ind k3] ‘s/he shows’; /s#indik3/: [sind k3] ‘one shows’
/pas3/:[pás3] ‘s/he passes’; /s#pas3/: [3spás3] ‘one passes’)
c. /f3lis-Ø/: [f3l s] ‘happy (fem. sg.)’
/f3lis-Ø-s/: [f3l s3s] ‘happy (fem. pl.)’
(cf. /sal-Ø/: [sál] ‘salt (fem.)’; /sal-s/: [sáls]‘salts’)
but: /f3lis-Ø/: [f3l s] ‘happy (masc. sg.)’
/f3lis-Ø-s/: [f3l sus] ‘happy (masc. pl.)’

Table 1 summarizes the facts of Catalan gender allomorphy. The unmarked masculine
allomorph is Ø; the marked masculine allomorphs are [u] and [3], the former being statistically
more common than the second one. The unmarked feminine allomorph is [3]; the marked one is Ø.

Table 1
Gender allomorphs in Catalan
Unmarked Marked Most marked
Masc. Ø u 3
Fem. 3 Ø

Table 2 illustrates the possible endings of nominal inflected forms in Catalan: (a) unmarked
cases, with the Ø masculine allomorph or the [3] feminine allomorph; (b) marked cases, with the
[u], [3] masculine allomorphs or the Ø feminine allomorph; (c) unmarked cases with regular [3]
epenthesis; (d) marked cases with regular [3] epenthesis, and (e) the special masculine forms with
[u] in the plural only.

Table 2
Nominal inflected forms under study
Masculine Feminine
(a) Unmarked cases g t g t-s ták-3 ták-3-s
pás, f3l s mós-3 mós-3-s
(b) Marked cases mós-u mós-u-s sál sál-s
páQ-3 páQ-3-s f3l s
(c) Unmarked cases with [3] epenthesis témpl3 témpl3-s
(d) Marked cases with [3] epenthesis f3l s3-s
(e) Special cases with [u] pás-u-s
f3l s-u-s

3.2. Previous approaches

The appearance of inflectional endings other than [3] in the feminine forms and Ø in the
masculines forms has always been considered exceptional and has been analyzed as an
918 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

idiosyncratic lexical characteristic of certain stems. However, the appearance of [u] in plurals
with an OCP-sibilant problem has been interpreted in different ways. Standard generative
analyses (Wheeler, 1979:20–30, 167; Mascaró, 1985a; Viaplana, 1991) considered that this
vowel was epenthetic, like the [3] used in problematic syllabification contexts, and resorted to the
ordered use of purely phonological rules versus morphologically-conditioned rules to account for
the insertion of one vowel or the other.
A different view is taken in Mascaró (1985b). There it is assumed that there is a general
epenthesis phenomenon, which is now analyzed autosegmentally. That is, a vocalic (V) slot is
inserted whenever a syllabification problem arises; this empty V slot is later filled by default rules
– a schwa in the case of the varieties of Catalan under discussion. In sibilant nominal contexts,
however, the added empty V slot is subject to a rule of gender spelling, which applies before the
default rules and assigns [u] to masculine nominals and [3] to the feminine ones. Hence, these
added vowels are not epenthetic but inflectional allomorphs (a gender allomorph in our
terminology; a nominal marker in Mascaró’s terms).
Wheeler (1987) also posits a unique [3]-epenthesis rule and assumes that [u] occurrences are
morphological, but he ends up leaving the analysis of the [u] plural forms open to further research
on morphology.
Within OT, the only reference to this atypical gender allomorphy appears in Wheeler
(2005:263). The author, however, takes the same position as Wheeler (1987) and does not offer any
specific analysis of the facts. Our claim is that we can capture the morpho-phonological regularity
of [u] appearance in plurals through the use of ordered allomorphs, as we will next prove.

3.3. Ordered allomorphs and lexical specifications

Our claim is that, in unmarked cases (Table 2, part a), allomorph selection follows from the
following ordering relations between allomorphs:

(32) Masculine: /Ø>u>3/ Feminine: /3>Ø/

In marked cases (Table 2, part b), the choice of gender allomorph is lexically determined (as is
the case, for instance, in the plural form of pairs like scheme–schemata in English). Hence the
lexical entries must show the idiosyncratic choice, that we note as follows:

(33) Masculine: /mosu/, /paQ3/ Feminine: /salØ/

The subscript we use for the marked cases is to be understood as a subcategorization requirement,
like the ones used in syntax or morphology (e.g. in Romance languages each verbal stem
subcategorizes for a specific conjugation). There is a unique input gender representation (that is,
/Ø>u>3/ for masculine and /3>Ø/ for feminine) and, for each nominal, the specific allomorph is
selected by the relevant constraints (see below). For the same reason that the existence of lexical
ordering of allomorphs entails the existence of a faithfulness constraint favoring the choice of the
dominating allomorphs (i.e. PRIORITY), the existence of lexical subcategorization requirements
naturally demands a faithfulness constraint that favors compliance with these requirements. We
define such constraint as follows:

(34) RESPECT: Respect idiosyncratic lexical specifications.

E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 919

The ranking of RESPECT above PRIORITY ensures that lexically marked forms select the marked
allomorphs.16 The tableaux in (35) illustrate how the unmarked allomorphs are selected in the
regular cases, exemplified in (30a, d). The tableaux in (36) illustrate how the marked
allomorphs, exemplified in (30b, c, e) are selected in cases where they regularly appear in the
singular and in the plural forms. The latter also provide evidence for the ranking of RESPECT
above PRIORITY.17

Tableaux (37) and (38) illustrate a case of unmarked masculine gender selection (i.e. Ø) with
insertion of the regular epenthetic vowel (i.e. [3]) for syllabic reasons. The candidates without
the inserted vowel, (37a) and (38a), are discarded by the high-ranked SONORITY SEQUENCING
constraint. These tableaux support the ranking SONORITY SEQUENCING, RESPECT >>
PRIORITY >> DEP.18 Notice that in both tableaux candidates (a, d) obey PRIORITY, since they
contain the dominating allomorph Ø (recall that underlined 3 is epenthetic); candidates with
intermediate [u], (b), incur one violation, and candidates with non-epenthetic, most marked [3],
(c), two violations.

Note that the ordering PRIORITY >> RESPECT would overrule any lexical specification.
An anonymous reviewer suggests that we could use subcategorization requirements similar to the one just proposed in
the case of the determiner allomorphy in Haitian Creole, in the previous section. There is, however, a crucial difference
between the two cases: in Catalan the set of words that select the [u] allomorph in the singular is totally random, while in
Haitian Creole the la allomorph appears with all and only the stems that end in a consonant. Hence in the latter case there
is a phonological generalization to be captured; specifying for each C-final stem that it subcategorizes for the la
allomorph would miss the generalization.
Although we simplify the number of possible candidates for expository reasons, it is worth noting that candidates with
morpheme-internal epenthesis, like [témp3l], would be discarded by O-CONTIGUITY (‘‘The portion of S2 standing in
correspondence forms a contiguous string (‘‘No intrusion’’)’’, McCarthy and Prince, 1995:371). Candidates with syllabic
consonants, like [témp3l], would be discarded by *P/C (‘‘C may not associate to Peak (Nuc) nodes’’, Prince and
Smolensky, [1993] 2004). Both constraints are high-ranked in Catalan.
920 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

As was illustrated in (31), the regular epenthetic vowel [3] also shows up in non-masculine
words with an OCP-sibilant problem due to the addition of a sibilant morph. These forms are
accounted for by adding the constraint OCP-SIBILANT (‘‘Adjacent sibilant segments are
forbidden’’), which is never violated in Catalan. Tableau (39) illustrates this case with the
evaluation of the verbal form [tús3s] ‘you cough’.

Feminine nominals that are lexically specified with the marked Ø gender morph and whose
stem ends in a sibilant also show up with [3] epenthesis in the plural forms to solve the OCP
problem created by the plural morph; e.g. the stem /f3lisØ/ ‘happy’ has the feminine singular form
[f3l s] and the feminine plural form [f3l s3s] (cf. (31c)). These cases are accounted for by the high
ranking of OCP-SIBILANT, which, like the SONORITY SEQUENCING constraint, outranks PRIORITY (40).
Note that the presence of the [3] gender allomorph in candidate (40b) entails a violation of
RESPECT, because the form is lexically marked as requiring the allomorph with no realization
(i.e. Ø) and instead surfaces with the [3] allomorph. The situation is quite different in (40c),
where the presence of epenthetic [3] does not entail a violation of RESPECT, because this vowel is
not associated to the gender morpheme, a position that is thus left without realization (i.e. the Ø
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 921

With the ordering put forward so far, however, masculine plurals that give rise to a
sibilant contact are also expected to undergo [3] epenthesis (see the candidate that wins in
tableau (41), i.e. (41d)); but in this case the candidate with the [u] masculine allomorph, i.e.
(41b), is the acceptable form instead. (The acceptable candidate is indicated with the symbol
‘ ’.)

The same problem appears in the evaluation of the masculine plural form /f3lis-{Ø>u>3}-s/
‘happy (masc. pl.)’, with the acceptable output [f3l sus] (cf. /f3lis-{Ø>u>3}/: [f3l s] ‘happy
(masc. sg.)’).
Our claim is that the reason for this asymmetry is paradigmatic, namely, plural nominals
are formed over their singular counterparts (plural = singular plus -s) and thus they are
influenced by the surface phonology of the singular (singular ! plural). This kind of
directional surface resemblance effect involves the notion of output-output correspondence
(cf. Benua, 1995, 1997) and the concept of ‘‘base’’ put forward in Kager (1999a,b), which
reproduce in parallel terms Brame’s (1974) Natural Bracketing Hypothesis. According to
Kager (1999b:281–282), the base (that is, the form that can influence the surface form of a
derived related form) is a freestanding output form – a word – and it must contain a subset of
the grammatical (morphological and semantic) features of the derived form. We claim that, in
Catalan, the paradigmatic relation that holds between a plural word and its singular
counterpart satisfies both criteria for base-hood. Singulars, like plurals, are freestanding
forms. Plurals are also semantically and morphologically compositionally related to singulars.
The feature [PLURAL] only adds the semantic notion of ‘more than one’ to singulars. Singular
forms never show overt number marking and thus can be analyzed as not being marked with
respect to number while plurals are marked with the privative feature [PLURAL]. Under this
view, we can establish a base-identity output-output correspondence relation between
singulars and plurals à la Kager. For the purpose of this paper we restrict the effect of this
922 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

constraint to vowels; for output-output (OO) effects on consonants see, among others,
Jiménez (1999) and Wheeler (2005).

(42) OO: Every vocalic segment in the base has a correspondent in the affixed form.

Our correspondence-based perspective of the Catalan facts is the following. When the singular
form needs a vowel for syllabification, regular [3]-epenthesis applies and this vowel is carried
over into the plural form, which also shows a syllabification problem (cf. [témpl3] – [témpl3s]).
The resulting plural form respects OO (singular ! plural) inasmuch as all vowels of the singular
have a correspondent in the plural ([témpl3] ! [témpl3s]). However, if only the plural needs a
vowel for syllabification, the language turns to morphology and selects the second masculine
allomorph, [u], to solve the problem (as in [pás] – [pásus]). The resulting plural form respects OO
(singular ! plural) too because here all vowels of the singular also have a correspondent in the
plural ([pás] ! [pásus]). The constraint responsible for turning to morphology is ALIGN-MM
(‘‘Align the left edge of a morph X with the right edge of a morph Y’’), which requires adjacency
between morphs.19 In [témpl3s], ALIGN-MM is violated because the epenthetic vowel intervenes
between the stem and the plural morph ([[témpl]3[s]]); in [pásus], ALIGN-MM is satisfied because
the added vowel, [u], is a morph too ([[pás][u][s]]). Therefore, what forces the alignment
violation in [témpl3s] (versus *[témplus]) is the OO requirement, which is satisfied in the case of
[pásus] because the singular does not have an extra final vowel to be carried over into the plural
(cf. [pás]).
The analysis we are putting forward, illustrated in tableaux (43)–(45), follows from the
ranking SONORITYSEQUENCING >> OO, ALIGN-MM >> PRIORITY >> DEP. We do not repeat here
the evaluation of the singular forms because the constraint OO remains inactive there, since they
have no base to resemble, and, as far as the number morph (i.e. plural) is concerned, the
constraint ALIGN-MM does not play any role in the singular forms either. In the plural forms
derived from singulars with epenthesis, like [témpl3s], in (43), the candidates with the
alternative masculine allomorphs – that is, [u], as in (43b), or [3], as in (43c) – violate the high-
ranked OO constraint. Note that candidate (43c), with the [3] allomorph, violates OO because
the base it must resemble is an output candidate itself ([témpl3]) and it thus contains prosodic
and morphological information on the nature of the final vowel (epenthetic in our example).20
Candidate (43d) violates ALIGN-MM. The role of ALIGN-MM is not determinant here but, as said,
it will be crucial in the evaluation of the [u] forms. At this point of the evaluation, the three
remaining candidates (i.e. (43b), (43c), and (43d)) fare even. But candidates (43b) and (43c)
are discarded in the next step because they violate PRIORITY, and thus candidate (43d), with
[3]-epenthesis, wins.21

In parallel approaches to OT, Alignment constraints account for the position of morphological and prosodic
constituents in the utterance (see Prince and Smolensky, [1993] 2004; McCarthy and Prince, 1993). On the role of
this constraint and its high-ranking in Catalan, see Bonet and Lloret (2002, 2005a, 2005b) and Wheeler (2005), among
Note that if output candidates did not contain prosodic and morphological information, we could not evaluate them
with respect to alignment requirements, for instance.
As noted by a reviewer, (43) shows that the ranking ALIGN-MM >> OO is not possible, since that would rule out the
winning candidate (43d), while allowing (43b) and (43c) to survive and ultimately selecting candidate (43b) as optimal.
Therefore, one can assume either the fixed ranking OO >> ALIGN-MM or the crucial non-ranking OO, ALIGN-MM. For
the present purposes we use the latter although the alternative would not change the results.
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 923

Tableau (44) shows the evaluation of a masculine plural [u] form, like [pásus]. In this case, no
candidate violates OO. Candidate (44d) is discarded because it violates ALIGN-MM due to the fact
that the intervening epenthetic vowel breaks morph adjacency (that is the adjacency between the
stem, [pás], and the number morph, [s]). The decisive constraint is PRIORITY, which discards
candidate (44c) because it violates PRIORITY twice inasmuch as it contains the third allomorph,

Now we should return to the evaluation of the forms with an intervening schwa that solves
the OCP-sibilant problem, the ones previously analyzed in (39) and (40). In verbal forms like
[tús3s] ‘you cough’, from /tus-s/ (cf. (39)), the OO constraint has no effect, and epenthesis
takes place because the epenthetic schwa does not compete with inflective allomorphs. In the
case of feminine plural forms like [f3l s3s] (cf. (40)), with the feminine singular counterpart
[f3l s], derived from a lexically marked input /f3lisØ/ ‘happy’, the OO constraint, as in (44),
has no effect either. The candidates that are not ruled out by OCP-SIBILANT, namely the one
with the [3] feminine allomorph, [f3l s3s], and the one with [3]-epenthesis, [f3l s3s], coincide
both with the actual phonetic result. Up to now, the candidate with schwa epenthesis was
considered to be the winning candidate (cf. (40c)). With the addition of ALIGN-MM (which is
obligatorily ranked above PRIORITY), the ranking RESPECT >> ALIGN-MM gives the same
result, as shown in (45).
924 E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927

There is another possibility, however: if RESPECT and ALIGN-MM are unordered or have the
opposite ranking (that is, ALIGN-MM >> RESPECT), the candidate with the gender allomorph will
be the optimal one, the candidate with epenthesis being ruled out by PRIORITY. The study of other
phonological phenomena from Catalan might help in determining the specific position of these
constraints with respect to one another.22
As for masculine plural forms of adjectives like ‘happy’, with a singular base with the
unmarked masculine Ø allomorph (i.e. [f3l s], from /f3lis-{Ø>u>3}/) and a plural form with the
expected [u] shape (i.e. [f3l sus], from/f3lis-{Ø>u>3}-s/), are obtained like [pásus] in (44).

4. Summary and conclusions

Allomorph distribution follows, as other grammatical distributional properties, from lexical

specification of morphs and from grammar. We have shown that two complex cases of allomorph
selection can be naturally explained if we assume minimal lexical specifications: in some cases
mere listing of allomorphs gives the right allomorphic selection (with no additional complication
of the grammar) through TETU effects. In other cases the only additional property of lexical
structure that is needed is partial ordering of allomorphs, and a corresponding faithfulness
constraint in the grammar that demands preference for dominating morphs. Finally, lexically
encoded selectional restrictions among morphemes also entail a corresponding faithfulness
constraint that ensures compliance with them. Crucially for our analysis, these faithfulness
constraints are relatively ordered with respect to other constraints. The ordering of these two
constraints with respect to other constraints predicts a wide range of attested empirical results
that depend on relative preferences of those requirements expressed via constraint ranking. In
some cases, the selected allomorph is the one that yields a less marked structure. In other cases,
preference for the unmarked is combined with lexical preference for certain allomorphs. In a
third set of cases, both are combined with the preference for selectional requirements regarding
specific morphs.

In any case, one should be able to find cases in which some constraint crucially dominates RESPECT. One such case
might be diminutive formation for masculine nominals with lexical preference of the root. In Catalan this lexical
preference is not transferred to the diminutive form (cf. problema /pQublem3/ [pQu l m3] ‘problem (masc.)’ versus
problemet /pQublem3-et/ [pQu l3m t], *[pQu l3m t3] ‘small problem (masc.)’). This is in contrast to the situation in
Castilian Spanish where the -a lexical specification of masculine roots is carried over to the diminutive form (cf. problema
/pQoblema/ [pQo léma] ‘problem (masc.)’ versus problemita /pQoblema-it/ [pQo lem ta], *[pQo lem to] ‘small problem
E. Bonet et al. / Lingua 117 (2007) 903–927 925


This work has been supported by the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia and the FEDER
BFF2003-06590 and HUM2004-01504/FILO, and by the Generalitat de Catalunya, research
groups 2005SGR00753 and 2005SGR01046. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers
for their helpful comments.


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