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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2019, Vol. 50, No. 1, Pages 137-196
(doi: 10.1162/ling_a_00304)
© 2018 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Autosegmental Aims in Surface-Optimizing Phonology
Article PDF (1.16 MB)
We develop a novel optimization approach to tone. Its grammatical component consists of the similarity- and proximity-based correspondence constraint framework of Agreement by Correspondence theory (ABC). Its representational component, Q Theory, decomposes segments (Q) into temporally ordered, quantized subsegments (q), which comprise unitary sets of distinctive features, including tone. ABC+Q unites phonological alternations and static lexical patterns, as we illustrate with a programmatic survey of core tonal phenomena: assimilation, dissimilation, lexical tone melodies, and consonant-tone interaction. ABC+Q surmounts long-standing problems for autosegmental-era, multitiered representational approaches to tone, and unites tonal and segmental phonology under the modern umbrella of correspondence theory.