On consonant sequences in Cayuga (Iroquoian)

Carrie Dyck


Underlying consonant sequences in Cayuga (and ill other Northernlroquoian languages) are apparently subject to phonotactic constraints. The non-randomness of underlying consonant sequences is problematic for Optimality-Theory (OT), which assumes that inputs are unconstrained
(Prince & Smolensky 1993; Smolensky 1995). However, I show that apparent pllOnotactic constraints are the product of the interaction of output-based constraints: I claim that the output optimally conforms to a group of ranked constraints on syllable structure which conspire to produce a ev(v)e syllable template. The ev(v)C template predicts a maximum of two consonants word-medially; problematically, larger
word-medial sequences exist. Nevertheless, the alternative of positing a larger template (such as eev(v)C) is undesirable: doing so predicts too few sites of epenthesis. Consequently, I adopt the smaller ev(v)C template and propose two explanations for the larger (3+) word-medial sequences:
first, some larger sequences are subject to MERGE; that is, continuant segments in such sequences are phonetically realized as secondary articulations rather than as full segments. As a consequence, word-medial consonant sequences contain at most two stop segments (plus some continuant segments which are realized as secondary articulations). Second, exceptionally large consonant sequences containing three stops can be licenced in the Cayuga verb because the verb is a prosodic phrase (i/J) poten tially containing several prosodic words (w).
Each prosodic word within the verb can have an appendix in which an extra (third) stop consonant can be licensed. In sumnzary, Cayuga has a ev(v)C template which licenses a maximum of 2 consonants word-medially; nevertheless, because of underparsing (MERGE) and verb-internal
appendices, larger sequences can be realized within the verb.

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