Biggs Lecture - A Typology of Map Interactions

Eric Baković, UC San Diego

Phonologists generally assume that the phonology of a language is a map from (inferred) underlying forms, consisting of unitary representations of morphemes, to (observed) surface forms, consisting of potentially alternating representations of those morphemes. We also generally assume that this underlying form (= input) to surface form (= output) map is highly articulated, with the basic unit of analysis corresponding to what is often called a phonological rule of the form A → B / C __ D (equivalently, CAD → CBD). These rules define input-output maps, and their coexistence in a language entails that they interact with each other.

In this talk we’ll start with a few well-known rule interactions to set up a formal system for describing (pairwise) rule interactions more generally. Because it’s a formal system, we are not only able to characterize and distinguish rule interaction types precisely, we are also able to elaborate the full typology of interactions that the system predicts. We will compare these predictions with examples of rule interactions that have been proposed to exist in the phonologies of natural languages, identifying mismatches and areas where more work is needed.