Morphological structure and phonological domains in Spanish denominal derivation

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In Spanish denominal derivation, the stem formative of the base typically disappears before the derivational suffix: e.g. <i>man-<b>o</b></i> &#8216;hand&#8217;, <i>man-az-a</i> &#8216;hand.AUG&#8217;, *<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 r&#244;les of suffixes and infixes in diminutive formation.


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