Phonology: Allomorphs and the underlying representation

Phonology: Allomorphs and the underlying representation

Question

An apostrophe s (’s) is typically used to express possessive inflection (also known as genitive case) in writing. The data below shows that, in spoken language, this morpheme can be realised with many different sounds. List the different allomorphs (variant pronunciations) of the possessive morpheme and the environments in which they occur. Decide which variant makes the best underlying representation and propose rules to derive the other surface forms.

Answer

(1)  Analysis of possessive s starts with looking at the following data to distinguish the allomorphs.

1 [ɹik] Rick [bout] Boat [reif] Rafe
2 [ɹiksnout] Rick’s note [boutsnout] Boat’s note [reifsnout] Rafe’s note
3 [keg] Keg [ted] Ted [di:n] Dean
4 [kegznout] Keg’s note [tedznout] Ted’s note [di:nznout] Dean’s note
5 [li:] Lee [bou] Bo [Kauw] Cow
6 [li:znout] Lee’s note [bouznout] Bo’s note [kauwznout] Cow’s note
7 [tʃз:tʃ] Church [wez] Wes [kaz] Kaz
8 [tʃз:tʃəznout] Church’s note [wezəznout] Wes’s note [kazəznout] Kaz’s note

(2) The preliminary graphical allomorph findings are:

 (3) The phonological environments for each allomorph are shown below.

(a) k, t, f                       [s] following voiceless consonants                    (one environment)

(b) g, d, n, i, ou, aw    [z] following voiced consonants and vowels   (two environments)

(c) tʃ, z, s                      [əz] following sibilants*                                       (one environment)

(*sibilants = /s, z, ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ/)

(4) Finding shown in (3) are graphical formulated below:

If the three allomorphs, [z] makes the best underlying representation since it occurs in two environments: after voiced consonants, as in Keg’s note [kegznout] and vowels as in Lee’s note [li:znout]. The other two allomorphs [s] and [əz] only occur in one environment.

(5) Phonological Rules

(a) Insertion: /Øz/ —> [əz] / [sibilants] ___#

(b) Assimilation*: /z/ —> [s] / [voiceless consonants] ___#   (*Devoicing)

To demonstrate that the rules in (5) derive the allomorphs of possessive s (‘s), (6), (7), and (8), show phonological derivation for each of the three allomorphs.

(6) Derivation of Keg’s

(a) Underlying representation: /keg/ + /z/

(b)  Insertion: does not apply

(c) Assimilation: does not apply

(d) Surface representation: [kegz]

(7) Derivation of Church’s

(a) Underlying representation: /tʃз:tʃ/ +/z/

(b)  Insertion:  [tʃз:tʃəz]

(c) Assimilation: does not apply

(d) Surface representation: [tʃз:tʃəz]

(8) Derivation of Rafe’s

(a) Underlying representation: /reif/ + /z/

(b)  Insertion:  does not apply

(c) Assimilation*: [reifs]      (*Devoicing z —> s)

(d) Surface representation: [reifs]

 

Copyright © Robert Mijas 2011

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