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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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            Localism versus Globalism in Morphology and Phonology

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              Movement Operations after Syntax

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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
                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/.

                Categories
                Research

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

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