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      How allomorphic is English article allomorphy?

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          Abstract

          The question of how to distinguish allomorphy from phonology plays a central role in morphological theory. While English a/an has been cited as a hallmark case of “phrasal” allomorphy, the parallel alternation between /ði/ and /ðə/ in the English definite article (/ðə/ book, /ði/ apple) has not received as much attention. This paper provides a formal analysis of English a/an and /ði/~/ðə/. I argue that: (i) /ði/~/ðə/ is not allomorphic, but is derived by the same phonological rules (tensing and vowel-reduction) as other V~ə alternations in English; and (ii) a/an involves a two-tiered derivation: first allomorphy establishes a basic split between V and Vn; then the same phonological rules involved in the (tensing and vowel-reduction) derive the four surface variants /ej/, /æn/, /ə/, and /ən/. In other words, in addition to its basic n~Ø alternation, a/an also participates in the same V~ə alternation as other strong-weak function-word pairs in English (/ði/~/ðə/ in the, /kæn/~/kən/ in can, etc.). This two-tiered serialist approach is incompatible with analyses of a/an as surface phonological optimization, or TETU ( Mascaró 1996b). Accordingly, I provide evidence from emphatic glottal stops, /h/-deletion and pause-fillers showing that despite initial appearances, neither a/an nor /ði/~/ðə/ is driven by surface syllable well-formedness constraints.

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          Most cited references53

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          Accents of English

          John Wells (1982)
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            Using uh and um in spontaneous speaking.

            H. Clark (2002)
            The proposal examined here is that speakers use uh and um to announce that they are initiating what they expect to be a minor (uh), or major (um), delay in speaking. Speakers can use these announcements in turn to implicate, for example, that they are searching for a word, are deciding what to say next, want to keep the floor, or want to cede the floor. Evidence for the proposal comes from several large corpora of spontaneous speech. The evidence shows that speakers monitor their speech plans for upcoming delays worthy of comment. When they discover such a delay, they formulate where and how to suspend speaking, which item to produce (uh or um), whether to attach it as a clitic onto the previous word (as in "and-uh"), and whether to prolong it. The argument is that uh and um are conventional English words, and speakers plan for, formulate, and produce them just as they would any word.
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              Localism versus Globalism in Morphology and Phonology

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2397-1835
                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Ubiquity Press
                2397-1835
                15 July 2016
                : 1
                : 1
                : 27
                Affiliations
                [-1]Emory University, 532 Kilgo Circle Ste. 202C, Atlanta, GA 30322, US
                Article
                10.5334/gjgl.62
                3886b214-f751-4184-b0e9-06f01230dfb5
                Copyright: © 2016 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                General linguistics,Linguistics & Semiotics
                phonological optimization,serialist vs. OT architectures,allomorphy

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