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Open Access A (not so) paradoxical instance of compensatory lengthening: Samothraki Greek and theoretical implications

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A (not so) paradoxical instance of compensatory lengthening: Samothraki Greek and theoretical implications

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Samothraki Greek onset-/r/ deletion with subsequent compensatory lengthening (CL) of the following vowel poses two major problems for current phonological theory. First, such a pattern should be impossible because in moraic theory onsets never bear weight, thus — under the assumption that CL is all about mora conservation (cf. Hayes 1989 and several others) — their deletion should not induce lengthening. Second, CL is an instance of opacity, and opacity is the single biggest conundrum that Optimality Theory faces. This paper addresses both issues and suggests that CL should not be treated as mora conservation, but instead as position preservation through the presence of a mora. This move sidesteps the previous problems as no reference to the input moraicity of segments is required and consequently, onsets, like codas, can cause CL. Moreover, concerns about OT’s parallelism, single input-output mapping, and Richness of the Base are taken into account ensuring that the resulting analysis observes all of them. The proposed solution neatly accounts for a number of CL cases and is successfully implemented in Samothraki Greek, an elaborate analysis of which is offered to capture the full range of facts.

Affiliations: 1: University of Patras and University of Thessaloniki, University College London


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