Identity Avoidance and Rendaku

Shigeto Kawahara, Shin-Ichiro Sano


One important observation that is made in the past phonological research is that constraints on output structures can both block and trigger phonological processes (i.e., conspiracy: Kisseberth 1970). This paper reports an experiment which shows that an Identity Avoidance constraint (a.k.a. the OCP) both blocks and triggers one phonological process in the same language, namely rendaku in Japanese. Our wug- experiment shows that rendaku is more likely to apply when the two CV moras across a morpheme boundary are identical; i.e. an Identity Avoidance constraint triggers rendaku. The experiment also shows that rendaku is less likely to apply when it would result in two adjacent identical CV moras across a morpheme boundary; i.e. the Identity Avoidance constraint blocks rendaku. These blocking and triggering effects of the general Identity Avoidance constraint on rendaku are a new discovery in Japanese phonology, despite the fact that rendaku has been studied extensively in the previous literature, suggesting the importance of experimentation in phonological research. Moreover, our case study offers experimental confirmation of the OCP conspiracy in natural languages.


OCP, identities avoidance, conspiracy, rendaku, phonological judgment

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