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Positional faithfulness in Harmonic Grammar

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2018

University of Utah
University of Utah


In Tamil, coronals are licensed in onsets and initial syllables, exemplifying what Jesney (2011b) calls Licensing in Multiple Contexts (LMC). Jesney shows that while only positional faithfulness produces LMC in Optimality Theory, positional licensing provides a competing analysis of LMC in Harmonic Grammar (HG). This suggests that positional faithfulness may not be necessary in HG. We argue, though, that positional faithfulness remains essential. First, other facts in Tamil are incompatible with the positional licensing approach to LMC, rendering the positional faithfulness alternative the only viable analysis. Second, only with positional faithfulness can certain typological generalizations concerning assimilation between consonants be captured.

Research Article
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We would like to thank audiences at the University of Utah, Phonology 2013, NELS 44, and the 2014 Annual Meeting of the LSA for feedback on this work. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers at the Journal of Linguistics whose feedback was invaluable. Abbreviations in glosses follow the Leipzig Glossing Rules. In addition, emphatic is abbreviated emph.


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