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Title: Theoretical historical phonology : a unified account of consonant lenition and vowel reduction in English within the framework of element and optimality theory
Author: Choi, Jaehyeok
ISNI:       0000 0004 5924 3365
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis is intended to provide a unified and coherent theoretical analysis of phonological weakening processes of vowels and consonants in English within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993). The analysis of weakening phenomena may vary according to the theory you adopt and the language you choose, but in this thesis, vowel reduction and consonant lenition in English will be explored in a constraint-based approach. In addition, most importantly, I seek to show which generalisations can equally be applied to both consonant lenition and vowel reduction in terms of a phonological theory. The key questions to be investigated in this thesis are as follows. 1) How do we represent phonological weakening phenomena in terms of segmental features or elements? 2) How can these representational elements be integrated into the constraint ranking and evaluation mechanisms in Optimality Theory? 3) Do the historical data such as the initial fricative voicing and vowel reduction in Old and Middle English give us any insight in this regard? There seems to be a similarity between consonant lenition and vowel reduction in terms of their phonological behaviour. For instance, both consonant lenition and vowel reduction can be treated as loss of some element or reduction of complexity in Element Theory (e.g. Harris 1994). This is an interesting point of my PhD project because this kind of representational approach to weakening phenomena has rarely been applied in Optimality Theoretic analysis. Therefore, what is intended to do in this thesis is that melodic representation will be used for modelling weakening phenomena within the framework of Optimality Theory. iv In this regard, I suggest a combined theoretic account of weakening phenomena involving the combination of two approaches namely Element Theory and Optimality Theory, which differentiates this account from previous analyses. I argue that the constraint *COMPLEX[Element], where ‘element’ refers to one of the primitives of Element Theory, plays a central role in analysing phonological weakening processes in this thesis. In addition, it will be shown throughout the thesis that these processes can be accounted for within the constraint interaction between positional faithfulness constraints such as IDENT[Element] and the integrated constraint *COMPLEX[Element] which I propose in this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available