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An OT Account of Coalescence and Compensatory Lengthening in Dhivehi (Maldivian)

Cain, Bruce D.

Dhivehi exhibits coalescence and compensatory lengthening when vowel-initial suffixes are added to stems ending in Iii. The consonant preceding the Iii determines the type of coalescence that takes place. Only dentals get palatalized (e.g., rodi 'thread', rodd3-ek 'a thread'), but labials and velars allow the Iii to coalesce with the nucleus of the preceding syllable to form an off-glide (e.g., boki, boykk-ek 'a bulb'). In either case, the consonant must geminate if Iii coalesces. Coalescence and gemination cannot take place if the syllable preceding Iii is closed, or if the preceding consonant is retroflex (e.g., bon!i, bonti-y-ek 'an unopened palm frond'; baqi baqi-y-ek 'a gun').

I demonstrate that this data requires a feature geometry that depicts the coronals' opacity effects in relation
to Iii. Given that, I show how constraints dealing with syllable structure, coalescence, and compensatory lengthening interrelate to account for the Dhivehi data within the framework of Optimality Theory.

This paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see
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