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Prosodic Faithfulness and Correspondence: Evidence from a Japanese Argot

Junko Itô, Yoshihisa Kitagawa and Armin Mester
Journal of East Asian Linguistics
Vol. 5, No. 3 (Jul., 1996), pp. 217-294
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20100699
Page Count: 78
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Prosodic Faithfulness and Correspondence: Evidence from a Japanese Argot
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Abstract

This paper develops a comprehensive optimality-theoretic analysis of a Japanese reversing argot. Similar to other types of prosodic-morphological word formation, the argot shows the activation of constraints defining phonological unmarkedness. This manifests itself in the emergence of optimal prosodic form, within the limits imposed by a game-specific reversal requirement. The latter is formally characterized as Cross-Anchoring, a playful variation of the normal correspondence-theoretic anchoring constraints that are part of the phonological grammar. Under the combined pressure of Cross-Anchoring and high-ranking prosodic form constraints, the argot distorts each ordinary-language base word in the minimal way, otherwise echoing it as faithfully as possible. As an important theoretical result, the analysis presents empirical evidence that prosodic faithfulness needs to be gauged in terms of foot-structural roles and not (or not exclusively) in terms of whole foot-sized constituents. Overall, the study demonstrates that the notion of "minimal distortion" operative in argot formation is none else but the principle of minimal violation of a set of ranked constraints, the fundamental tenet of Optimality Theory.

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