Spanish truncation processes: The emergence of the unmarked

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In this paper I reexamine noun truncation and hypocoristic processes in Spanish. I argue that a constraint-based analysis is preferrable to previous analyses (Prieto 1992) because it does not require a condition - which could be optional or obligatory - on the form of the second syllable. At the same time, the syllabic trochee can be retained as a template for truncation. The analysis also shows that truncation processes in Spanish lend support to the idea of the "emergence of the unmarked" (McCarthy and Prince 1994a). A fundamental principle of optimality theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993; McCarthy and Prince 1993) is the universality of constraints. Constraints are always present in the grammar, even when violated under domination; their effects become visible only when the dominant constraint/s is/are no longer relevant (McCarthy and Prince 1994a). For instance, NO CODA, a constraint against codas, is extensively violated in languages with syllable codas. NO CODA, however, will be obeyed in the same languages when the dominating constraint, such as faithfulness, requiring parsing of all underlying material, is not relevant. The universality of constraints is essentially related to the formal notion of markedness proposed by optimality theory in which forms are marked if they literally incur violation marks with respect to a constraint C and which allows FOR THE EMERGENCE OF UNMARKED FORMS WHEN C IS OBEYED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1199-1218
Number of pages20
Issue number346
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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