Optional multiple plural marking in Maay

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This paper presents an account of optional Multiple Exponence (ME) in the nominal morphology of Maay (Paster 2007; Comfort and Paster in press), a Cushitic language spoken in southern Somalia and closely related to Somali. In this language, all consonant-final nouns have three possible plural forms: one form with the suffix <i>-o</i>, one form with the suffix -yal, and a third form with both suffixes. The existence of optional ME upholds a prediction made by Optimal Construction Morphology (OCM; Inkelas et al. 2006), which is a subcategorization-based and constraint-based model of morphology. This paper proposes an OCM analysis of ME in Maay, making use of free constraint ranking to handle the optionality of the phenomenon. It concludes with a possible historical scenario for the origin of optional ME in Maay.


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