24.171, Diss: Phonology: Bennett: 'Dissimilation, Consonant Harmony, and Surface Correspondence'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-24-171. Thu Jan 10 2013. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 24.171, Diss: Phonology: Bennett: 'Dissimilation, Consonant Harmony, and Surface Correspondence'

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Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2013 14:46:51
From: William Bennett [bennettw at rutgers.edu]
Subject: Dissimilation, Consonant Harmony, and Surface Correspondence

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Institution: Rutgers–New Brunswick 
Program: Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2013 

Author: William G. Bennett

Dissertation Title: Dissimilation, Consonant Harmony, and Surface Correspondence 

Dissertation URL:  http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/001710

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology

Dissertation Director(s):

Dissertation Abstract:

In this dissertation, I argue for a theory of long-distance consonant dissimilation 
based on Surface Correspondence, correspondence that holds over the different 
consonants contained in the same output form. Surface Correspondence is 
posited in previous work on Agreement By Correspondence, which explains 
long-distance consonant assimilation as agreement driven by similarity (Rose & 
Walker 2004, Hansson 2001/2010). I demonstrate that dissimilation is a natural 
outcome of this theory of correspondence, and develop a novel and more 
formally explicit characterization of the Surface Correspondence relation and the 
constraints sensitive to it. The consequences of this theory are explored in 
analyses of dissimilation and agreement patterns in Kinyarwanda, Sundanese, 
Cuzco Quechua, Obolo, Chol, Ponapean, Zulu, Yidiny, Latin, and Georgian. 

The Surface Correspondence Theory of Dissimilation (SCTD) posits only 
constraints that demand surface correspondence, and constraints that limit it. 
Dissimilation falls out from the interaction of these constraints. Correspondence 
is only required between consonants that are similar in a specified respect; if 
they are not similar in the output, they need not correspond. Constraints that 
disfavor Surface Correspondence therefore favor dissimilation, because 
dissimilating is a way to avoid penalized surface correspondence structures. 
This interaction derives long-distance consonant dissimilation without any 
special mechanism like the OCP or anti-similarity constraints; it also explains 
certain dissimilation patterns that aren’t accounted for by previous OCP-based 

The SCTD unites long-distance consonant dissimilation and consonant harmony 
under the same theory, but does not predict that they are formally identical. 
Agreement is based on correspondence; dissimilation, on the other hand, is 
based on non-correspondence – consonants dissimilate instead of 
corresponding. Surface Correspondence constraints therefore affect 
dissimilation in different ways than harmony: limiting correspondence limits 
agreement, but favors dissimilation. The resulting prediction is that harmony and 
dissimilation are related in a consistently mismatched way, and not in the 
matching way predicted by previous theories that link them together 
(MacEachern 1999, Nevins 2004, Mackenzie 2009, Gallagher 2010, a.o.). This 
outcome of the SCTD is empirically supported: a survey of over 130 languages 
shows that the typology of long-distance consonant dissimilation indeed does not 
match the typology of consonant harmony.

LINGUIST List: Vol-24-171	

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