The <i>-alis/-aris</i> allomorphy revisited

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The <i>-alis/aris</i> allomorphy has often been the object of detailed investigation, though the nature of its patterns and their interaction with phonotactics are not fully appreciated. A corpus-based analysis of the distribution of liquids reveals asymmetries between <b>r</b> and <b>l</b> and also important differences in repetition patterns. For l the constraint is that its occurrences must be separated by at least one non-coronal consonant; the productive diminutive formation is a saliently exceptional pattern. The case of the <i>-alis/aris</i> dissimilation falls under this constraint: liquid dissimilation is not only blocked by an intervening <b>r</b> but also by any non-coronal consonant. The distance between the two liquids is also relevant. The case of <b>r</b> is different. In final syllables only <b>r</b>V<b>r</b>, in non-final syllables only <b>r</b>VV<b>r</b> occurs. While this receives a partial diachronic explanation, the interesting and non-obvious fact is that Latin word forms generally conform to this pattern even where this is not warranted diachronically. We explain the exceptions to this generalisation with reference to two different morphophonological factors.


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