Alignment and fricative assimilation in German

An account of the distribution of the dorsal fricative in German has generally been assumed to require cyclic derivation and/or multiple phonological levels (Hall 1989, Moltmann 1990, Noske 1990, MacFarland and Pierrehumbert 1991, Iverson and Salmons 1992, Borowsky 1993). In this squib, I argue that the facts of fricative assimilation can be accounted for without cyclicity or separate phonological levels within Optimality Theory (OT) (Prince and Smolensky 1993) by employing a version of the theory of alignment proposed by McCarthy and Prince (1993b), which permits direct interaction between morphological and phonological structures. I propose that the fricative in these cases is ambisyllabic, permitting an account under which fricative assimilation occurs only tautosyllabically. My analysis assumes that alignment constraints proper are not violated in cases of multiple linking, supporting the premise that the satisfaction of alignment constraints is to be distinguished from satisfaction of constraints requiring prosodic units to have crisp edges (as argued for in Itô and Mester (in press)).
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