Use It or Lose It Harmony in Komo


  • Marjorie Leduc Rutgers University
  • Adam McCollum



Komo, Optimality Theory, trigger effacement, myopic, vowel harmony, dominant recessive, Use it or Lose It


This paper discusses a case of putative dominance reversal in the Komo language (Otero 2015, 2019), which we analyze as a related, but distinct repair strategy called “Use it or Lose it” (Mullin & Pater 2015).

Mullin & Pater (2015) argue that Use it or Lose it harmony is a pathological prediction of Agree for the same basic reason that “Sour Grapes” harmony (Wilson 2003, 2006; Heinz & Lai 2013) has been regarded as pathological – both Use it or Lose it and Sour Grapes harmony patterns are non-myopic (Wilson 2003, 2006). Wilson argues that unbounded spreading patterns are universally myopic, and as such, no theory should predict that the realization of some element in spreading – trigger or target – depends on downstream information. However, recent research has shown that some patterns in natural languages are, in fact, non-myopic, indicating that the predictions of Agree are not as problematic as previously thought. This paper argues that the best analysis of Komo relies on the activity of [Atr] and both regressive [+Atr] spreading and [+Atr] trigger effacement are repairs to a single marked structure in the language, *VC0[Hi, Atr].