No "double plurals" in Dominican Spanish: An optimality-theoretic account

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In addition to standard methods of pluralization, Dominican Spanish has an alternative plural formation mechanism, normally referred to as the "double plural," in which -(e)se (e)se is adjoined to the base, libro > librose 'book-books', mujer > mujerese 'woman-women' (Jiménez Sabater 1976; Núñez-Cedeño 1980; Harris 1980; Terrell 1986; Núñez-Cedeño 2003). Extant analyses of double plural formation in Dominican Spanish suer from framework-specific problems and more general ones, having to do with overgeneration of forms and inability to reveal the true nature of the process. Most analyses postulate a separate plural morpheme for Dominican "double plurals" /(e)se/. This article proposes an optimality-theoretic analysis that demonstrates that there is no "double plural" in Dominican in the sense that the "double plural" is based on the regular plural. There is only one plural morpheme, the traditional /s/. The apparently redundant attachment of the plural morpheme results from general restrictions on coda obstruents in combination with the need for overt realization of morphemes in prominent positions. The difference between the regular plural and the double plural (focused) is that in the latter case, a highly-ranked constraint realize morphemefocus requires that the plural in focused positions have morphological exponence. In more general terms, se is the output realization of plural /s/ followed by epenthetic e in intonationally prominent (focus) positions. The present analysis also shows that the plural form is in an output-to-output relation to the singular. Epenthesis of e in the plural reflects the emergence of the unmarked (McCarthy and Prince 1994), with respect to the constraint against coda consonants (*Coda), whose effects can be seen in the output-to-output phonology of the plural, but not in the language as a whole, for example, mujer vs. mujere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-568
Number of pages28
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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