When diachrony meets synchrony.
This paper has three goals. First, it aims to illustrate how the problems derived from access to intricate diachronic empirical data can sometimes be informed by a careful look at interdialectal microvariation, in that this linguistic microvariation can sometimes help to explain why a phonological process applies or has applied. Second, it intends to show how some of the machineries developed within Optimality Theory to account for synchronic surface resemblances between the members of an inflectional paradigm can be applied to account for phonological change. Third, it attempts to demonstrate how the analysis of phonological change and linguistic variation in a specific linguistic variety and across nearby linguistic varieties can provide noteworthy insights about the architecture of these machineries. Overall, we provide significant empirical evidence, drawn from Catalan, Spanish and Occitan inflection, that analogy is exclusively induced by phonological markedness, that is, for concluding that what determines or governs the direction of the pressure is not a specific morphological status of a word but rather the need to respect phonological markedness.