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Title: Topics in the morphophonology of standard spoken Tamil (SST) : an optimality theoretic study
Authors: Ramasamy, Mohana Dass
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis provides a novel account of the morphophonology of Standard Spoken Tamil (SST) in a constraint-based framework. Special focus is given to the constraints governed by sonority-distance in avoiding possible tension at morphology and phonology interfaces (M-P interfaces). The study is based on a thorough analysis of an extensive body of data which constitute empirical evidence for the present research. It has been argued that the repair strategies devised at M-P interfaces can be properly predicted from the perspective of sonority distance between the segments occupying the edges of the preceding and succeeding lexical items. This thesis consists of seven chapters. The first chapter, in addition to laying a background for the present study, also gives theoretical and empirical evidence justifying the need for conducting a constraint-based study for long-running issues on the morphophonology of Tamil. The chapter includes an overview of widely applied SST in Malaysia, the source which provided statistical and empirical evidence for the present study, a brief review of the related literature, and description of the aims of the study, research questions, methodology, limitations of the study and the organization of the chapters. Chapter two, the theoretical framework of sonority-related repair strategies (SrRS) at M-P interfaces in Tamil, introduces the theoretical framework guiding the present thesis. This chapter illustrates the sonority requirement underpinning the solutions at different types of interfaces, namely, vowel hiatus ((i) vowel versus vowel (V-V)), onset/coda asymmetry ((ii) consonant versus consonant (C-C)), general alignment ((iii) consonant versus vowel (C-V)), and less-preferred interaction of (iv) the vowel versus consonant (V-C). This chapter clarifies the relevance of sonority distance and the selection of the correct strategies to resolve conflict at M-P interfaces. The third chapter is on the prosodic phonology of the SST. It provides a description of the prosodic phonology of standard spoken Tamil without relying upon a particular theoretical framework. The description is intended to provide insight into the overall phonological patterns of lexemes and the phonological properties of the language. v Chapter four, vowel hiatus (_V# + #V_) and SrRS in Tamil, deals with issues relating to vowel hiatus (VH), which commonly emerge when two vowels come into contact as a result of morphological concatenation. Tamil as an agglutinative language which applies various processes to word result in to various types of V# + #V_ interfaces. The language employs a range of sonority related resolutions to avoid vowel hiatus, with the sole aim of maintaining the uniformity of word internal syllables and preserving harmonic contact at the M-P interfaces. This chapter explores the sonority-related motivation behind the assignment of glides, vowel deletion (VD), and epenthesis to avoid hiatus. Chapter five is on _C# versus #C_ interfaces and conflict management in Tamil. It deals with sonority-related resolutions applied to avoid Onset-Coda asymmetries in Tamil. Irregularities resulting from consonant versus consonant (_C# versus #C_ ) interaction at M-P interfaces are aggressively initiated by various segmental and sub-segmental properties. Involvement of segmental values including the visible individual segmental values and the invisible sub-strength properties such as sonority, prosodic features and the positional prominences at the interfaces have been analyzed within the positional faithfulness framework in this chapter. Chapter six deals with _C#_#V_ (C-V) and _V#_C#_ (V-C) types of interactions in Tamil. Though these interactions appear to be a simple form of interaction at face value, they exhibit systematic and interesting phonological reactions at M-P interfaces. Previous studies analyzing the nature of the phonological reactions of C-V and V-C in literature, which have treated the foregoing interfaces as a natural way of forming demisyllables, have to a great extent obscured their amazing phonological relevance. The present study offers alternative remedies, claiming that the C-V and V-C interfaces are hosting equally important phonological reactions just as in the case of vowel hiatus (V-V) and coda and onset asymmetry (C-C), casting relevance on sonority distance. The last chapter is the conclusion. It provides a summary and discussion of the findings.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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