Comparing Positional Licensing Patterns in HG and OT

Eric Bakovic, Anna Mai


Positional licensing refers to the observation that elements (e.g. particular feature values or feature value combinations) can be limited to specific positions (e.g. syllable onsets, initial syllables, stressed syllables, etc.). Positional licensing patterns have been analyzed using either positional markedness or positional faithfulness constraints in OT and HG. In this paper we demonstrate that the predictions of OT and HG diverge in deep but structured ways once there are more than two licensing positions. We propose an account for this structured divergence based on 3-position systems, and confirm the validity of that account with an analysis of 4-position systems. We also describe how conjoined constraints impact positional licensing patterns, and in doing so provide a counter-example to a claim made in our previous work (Mai & Baković 2020).


Optimality Theory; Harmonic Grammar; positional licensing; cumulative interaction

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Copyright (c) 2021 Eric Bakovic, Anna Mai

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