[CARVALHO] From binary features to elements

From binary features to elements: Implications for markedness theory and phonological acquisition

Joaquim Brandão de Carvalho

(reviewers: Yuni Kim, João Veloso)

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Abstract : This article aims to assess the two competing models of features that have dominated the history of phonological theory for almost one century: the first, which originates from Trubetzkoy, allows both “privative” and “equipollent” contrasts; the second comes from Jakobson’s strict binarism, and has been continued in generative phonology up to the present day. Firstly, it will be argued that the latter model suffers from at least three problems that follow from overgeneration, and make it impossible to provide a natural and unified account of systemic and processual markedness. Secondly, it will be shown how these problems can be given a straightforward solution through an approach based on privative elements, in which markedness becomes the result of operations acting on primary segments. Interestingly, such a view turns out to be remarkably compatible with recent findings in L1 acquisition, namely Kuhl’s Native Language Magnet Theory.

Carvalho, Joaquim (Brandão de). 2023. “From binary features To elements: Implications for markedness theory and phonological acquisition”. Radical: A Journal of Phonology, 3, 346-384.