Selectional Effects in Allomorph Competition

Samantha Gordon Danner


This paper uses English demonyms – the name for inhabitants of a particular region, such as Californian or Icelander – to investigate a combination of phonological and non-phonological factors that drive conditioned allomorphy. A corpus study of English demonyms found that hypothesized phonological conditioning factors of demonym allomorphy such as base stress and base syllable count did not fully account for alternation in demonym allomorphy. In a related experiment that tested native English speakers’ preferences for demonym allomorphs among real and fictional place names, additional non-phonological factors such as familiarity and frequency were also considered. The experiment results showed that place names noted as unfamiliar by participants had different conditioning factors than phonologically similar place names from the corpus study. The corpus study and experimental results highlight the need to consider both phonological factors and non-phonological factors in the study of conditioned allomorphy.


Conditioned Allomorphy; Demonyms

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