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Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Heap, David

2nd Supervisor

Lamarche, Jacques

Joint Supervisor

Joint Supervisor


We examine the pronoun morphology of Occitan dialects in the French Department of Alpes-Maritimes in order to better account for three phenomena that exist in certain Romance varieties: 1) the variable linear orders of clitic pronouns, 2) syncretism and 3) opacity.

We analyse data from the PAM (Parlers des Alpes-Maritimes, Dalbera 1994) in the form of questionnaires that the participant translates from French into his own dialect. We systematically compare the forms of pronouns as well as their linear orders. We compare the approaches proposed to account for these three phenomena in other Romance languages. An approach using morphological models gives us the flexibility to account for the facts observed.

In some Romance languages, clitic pronouns are ordered from left to right depending on an increase in structural complexity (morphological specification) of a hierarchical feature geometry (for example, person, number, gender, case). We use a hypothesis called the "Least Leafy to the Left" (Heap 1998: 240) based on the geometric design where the markedness is determined by the number of contrasts present in a hierarchy. This constraint, based on morphological models that allow under-specification, better represents variable linear orders and, when the under-specification of features cannot account for variable linear orders, we use alignment constraints which depend on the grammatical case. Within the framework of variable OT (Optimality Theory) (Reynolds 1994; see also Antilla 1995), these two constraints can have variable rankings. We show that morphological models can also represent syncretic forms as well as an opaque form.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.