An Optimality-Theoretic Account of Exceptionality & Optionality in Pre-Nasal Raising in Persian

Document Type : Research Paper


Faculty member/ Shahrekord University


Pre-nasal raising is a phonological process in Persian through which the low vowel /A/ changes to the high vowel [u] in the environment before nasals. While this process is obligatory in many words, it fails to occur in some words. Moreover, its occurrence can also be optional as an instance of free variation which is called optionality. This research aimed at analyzing exceptionality and optionality in the occurrence of pre-nasal raising within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky, 1993/ 2004) and some related approaches. The optionality is analyzed using the free ranking approach which maps a single input onto two outputs. The exceptionality could be due to phonological reasons including the exclusive application of pre-nasal raising on the underlying representation, destruction of its input by a preceding process (bleeding order) or existence of a post- nasal /u/. It could also be due to semantic and non- linguistic reasons, i.e., this process stopped to apply several centuries ago. Instances of exceptionality which are due to phonology- semantics interactions or the non- linguistic reason are analyzed using lexical-access constraints and lexically specific constraints, respectively.


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Volume 7, Issue 2
January 2017
Pages 19-38
  • Receive Date: 02 November 2016
  • Revise Date: 21 November 2016
  • Accept Date: 21 November 2016
  • First Publish Date: 21 November 2016