Chapter

Natural Processes

D. Gary Miller

in Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume I

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583423
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723438 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583423.003.0007
Natural Processes

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The difficult issue of what is natural in different components of the grammar is addressed. A few phonetic processes recognized as natural in several models are word‐final devoicing, the irreversible change of [s] to [h], excrescence, assimilation, and palatalization. The Universality of the Sonority Hierarchy is upheld and its consequences for change are explored. In the interaction between semantics and other domains, the polarity principle (markedness vs faithfulness) and probable examples of Avoid homophony are adduced. Natural syntactic processes are introduced along with potential examples of natural morphology, e.g. loss of exception marks, Watkins' Law, and corrections of mirror‐principle violations. Iconicity of exponents with the syntactic computation is relevant only to cumulative (not substitutive) morphology and is at best an optimality condition.

Keywords: natural processes; phonetic processes; excrescence; assimilation; palatalization; polarity principle; Avoid homophony; natural syntactic processes; Watkin; natural morphology

Chapter.  13016 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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