Gouskova 2004 (Phonology)

Gouskova, Maria. 2004. Relational hierarchies in OT: the case of Syllable Contact. Phonology 21:2, pp. 201-250.

A number of phonological laws require adjacent elements to stand a certain distance apart from each other on some prominence scale. Thus, according to the Syllable Contact Law, the greater the sonority slope between the coda and the following onset, the better. Languages such as Faroese, Icelandic, Sidamo, Kazakh, and Kirgiz select different thresholds for acceptable sonority slope. This article proposes a theory for deriving hierarchies of relational constraints such as the Syllable Contact Law from prominence scales in the constraint set CON in Optimality Theory. The proposal is compared to two alternative approaches, non-hierarchical constraints and the local conjunction of constraint hierarchies, which are argued to make undesirable empirical and theoretical predictions.