Gender allomorphy and epenthesis in Spanish
Contrary to most previous approaches, this paper argues that current Spanish does not have final epenthesis or plural epenthesis, based on several types of empirical evidence. As a consequence, former epenthetic vowels have been reinterpreted as “gender” allomorphs or class markers. Only initial and internal epenthesis are possible in the synchronic grammar of Spanish. It is also shown that, contrary to some views, <i>-o</i> is not the default class marker. Under this new light, class markers are reanalyzed within Optimality Theory. It is claimed that all allomorphs are present in the input and that the constraint ranking, together with lexical specifications, determine which class marker surfaces and what contexts favor vowel epenthesis. Invariable plural formation follows naturally under this approach. This view is compared with the idea that Spanish does have final epenthesis and plural epenthesis with lexical items divided in two groups, genuine words and loans, which are subject to different constraint rankings.