Jesse Zymet

Department of Linguistics
3125 Campbell Hall, UCLA
Los Angeles, California
90095-1543

A case for parallelism: reduplication-repair interaction in Maragoli

This paper carries out an extensive investigation into the interaction between reduplication and hiatus repair in Maragoli. The data give rise to paradoxical, opportunistic rule ordering: in one set of inputs, copying before repairing avoids a complex onset, while in another set, repairing before copying avoids an onsetless syllable and maximizes word-internal self-similarity. Based on attested words and nonce probe data elicited from a native speaker, I argue that a successful analysis of the interaction requires direct comparison between forms derived by opposite orders of phonological changes. The orderings receive a full analysis in Parallel Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004) but translate into constraint ranking paradoxes in Harmonic Serialism with Serial Template Satisfaction (McCarthy et al. 2012). The data thus constitute evidence for irreducible parallelism in the sense of McCarthy (2013).

Current draft: pdf

LSA2016 talk: pdf


Distance-based decay in long-distance phonological processes: probabilistic models for Malagasy, Latin, English, Hungarian, and Sanskrit

Many long-distance phonological processes exhibit what I call distance-based decay: the application rate decreases as transparent distance increases. This article provides a robust model of the effect within Maximum Entropy Harmonic Grammar (Goldwater and Johnson 2003), drawing from corpus data exemplifying three processes in four languages. Statistical measures reveal that distance in these cases is best measured in terms of syllable count rather than segment count or mora count. I reject distance-specific constraints, instead positing a decay function that scales the weight of a single AGREE/DISAGREE constraint (Kimper 2011) with syllabic distance. I adopt the negative power function, which performs better than a linear function, and which I show is invariant in shape crosslinguistically: decay-rate differences across languages are captured by varying only the constraint weights, without having to fit language-specific decay functions. I close with discussion of a fourth process, retroflex assimilation in Sanskrit, which possesses unique decay properties.

Current draft (under revision): pdf

Article to appear in the proceedings of the 32nd Annual West Coast Conference in Formal Linguistics: pdf


An investigation of apparent sublexical coordination in English (with Clara Sherley-Appel, UCSC)

We present data on coordinated affix constructions (CACs), constructions such as pre- and post-operative surgery. We argue that CACs do not involve mere coordination of affixes, but rather result from right-node raising.

Talk given at the 88th Annual Conference of the Linguistic Society of America