Taking a Free Ride in Morphophonemic Learning

John J. McCarthy


As language learners begin to analyze morphologically complex words, they face the problem of projecting underlying representations from the morphophonemic alternations that they observe. Research on learnability in Optimality Theory has started to address this problem, and this arti- cle deals with one aspect of it. When alternation data tell the learner that some surface [B]s are derived from underlying /A/s, the learner will under certain conditions generalize by deriving all [B]s, even nonalternating ones, from /A/s. An adequate learning theory must therefore incorpo- rate a procedure that allows nonalternating [B]s to take a «free ride» on the /A/ → [B] unfaithful map.


chain shift, learning, morphophonemics, opacity, Optimality Theory; Arabic, Choctaw, German, Japanese, Rotuman, Sanskrit.

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Copyright (c) 2005 John J. McCarthy