Morphological structure and phonological domains in Spanish denominal derivation
In Spanish denominal derivation, the stem formative of the base typically disappears before the derivational suffix: e.g. <i>man-<b>o</b></i> ‘hand’, <i>man-az-a</i> ‘hand.AUG’, *<i>man-<b>o</b>-az-a</i>. This pattern can be analysed in two ways: as driven by a morphotactic restriction, or as created by a morphophonological process of stem-final vowel deletion. Following James Harris, most generative linguists have consistently assumed the former; Stratal Optimality Theory, however, requires the latter, for otherwise the interaction between diphthongization and depalatalization gives rise to a stratification paradox. This paper adduces independent morphological evidence to confirm the existence of stem-final vowel deletion in Spanish, as predicted by Stratal Optimality Theory. Our data reveal a previously unrecognized contrast between pseudoplural nouns and nouns with athematic stems ending in /s/, and cast light on the relative rôles of suffixes and infixes in diminutive formation.