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Challenges of Cushitic reduplication for Generalized Template Theory

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In this paper we investigate two typical Cushitic reduplication patterns, CVC- initial and -C final. They were chosen, as they would appear to be especially problematic for the generalized template theory of reduplication developed within OT: neither CVC- nor -C is an unmarked syllable or unmarked metrical foot. The challenge for any analysis is to motivate why these shapes are unmarked. We propose that CVC- is a minimal root, and variations in the realization of CVC- reduplicants are shown to be an emergence of the unmarked effect, following from different rankings of constraints on coda consonants and geminates in the different languages. We propose that the -C final pattern does not actually involve the morphological process of reduplication, but rather a phonologically motivated process of consonant copy. The patterns are illustrated with abundant examples drawn from a number of Cushitic languages.


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