Linzen, Tal, Sofya Kasyanenko, and Maria Gouskova. 2013. Lexical and phonological variation in Russian prepositions. Phonology 30:3, pp. 453-515.
Phonological rules can be variable in two ways: they can apply to a subset of the lexicon (lexical variation), or apply optionally, with a probability that depends on the phonological environment (stochastic variation). These two types of variation are occasionally seen as mutually exclusive. We show that the vowel-zero alternation in Russian prepositions ([s trudom] ‘with difficulty’ vs. [sə stinoj] ‘with the wall’) exhibits both types of variation at the same time. In two corpus studies and a nonce word experiment, we document novel stochastic factors that influence the alternation: similarity avoidance, stress position and sonority profile. These constraints interact additively, lending support to a weighted constraint analysis. In addition to the phonologically determined stochastic variation, we find significant lexical variation: phonologically similar nouns differ in the rate at which they condition the alternation in the prepositions. We analyze this pattern using weighted constraints with lexical scaling factors.