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Assistant Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Honors Advisor

Department of Linguistics
Languages & Communication Building
255 S. Central Campus Drive Room 2300
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Office: LNCO 2305
Phone Number: (801) 581-3441
a.kaplan at utah dot edu







My research probes the kinds of operations phonological theory must formalize. Noniterative and optional processes are central to this endeavor because they seem to require explicit mention of processes (as opposed to surface-form criteria), which OT eschews. I am also interested in prominence-based licensing phenomena, in which some element is permitted only if it has membership in some prominent position such as a stressed syllable. The range of phenomena of this sort imposes stringent demands on the constraint types (Positional Licensing and Positional Faithfulness) that produce them; my research aims to refine these constraints to reflect the typology of prominence-based systems and examine the behavior of these constraints in different frameworks: OT, Harmonic Grammar, Harmonic Serialism, etc.

Publications and Presentations

Positional Licensing

Long-Distance Licensing in Harmonic Grammar (2016) Proceedings of AMP 2015.

This paper argues that to avoid certain pathologies, under Harmonic Grammar positional licensing must be a gradient, positive constraint (Here is the poster I presented at AMP 2015, and here is a handout from a talk I gave on the subject at the 37. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft (2015) [37th Annual Meeting of the German Society for Linguistics].)

The Limits of Positive Constraints (2016) Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, Washington, DC, January 8.

In other work I have argued that formulating positional licensing as a positive constraint in Harmonic Grammar has significant benefits. In this talk I ask whether the same goes for positional faithfulness. I argue that the answer is no: pathologies introduced by positional faithfulness persist under a positive formulation of that constraint type.

Maximal Prominence and a Theory of Possible Licensors (2015) NLLT 33.4, 1235-1270. DOI 10.1007/s11049-014-9273-5. Also available here

I argue in this paper that positional licensing constraints may target only "maximally" prominent positions (e.g. primary stress but not secondary stress), while positional faithfulness can target any prominent position. This explains crosslinguistic asymmetries in the kinds of processes the two constraint types give rise to. (Here is an earlier version that I presented at the 21st Manchester Phonology Meeting (2013)).

Positional Faithfulness in Harmonic Grammar (with Miranda McCarvel) (2014) Paper presented at the LSA Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, January 3.

We argue that while Harmonic Grammar allows Positional Licensing to do some of the work that Positional Faithfulness must do in OT, we cannot dispense with Positional Faithfulness altogether. Harmonic Grammar requires both Positional Licensing and Positional Faithfulness, just as OT does. (Here is the corresponding poster we presented at NELS 44, and here is the poster we presented at Phonology 2013.)

Harmonic Improvement without Candidate Chains in Chamorro (2011) Linguistic Inquiry 42.4, 631-650. (© the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Also available here)

This paper argues that even though OT with Candidate Chains offers a simple analysis of Chamorro umlaut, a standard OT analysis is more insightful and superior on typological grounds.

Chamorro Umlaut: An Argument Against Candidate Chains. (2009) Poster presented at the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association. Santa Cruz, CA. May 2.

This poster is an early version of a paper that appeared in LI in 2011.

Stress is the Trigger of Chamorro Umlaut (2008) Emily Tummons and Stephanie Lux (eds.), Proceedings of the 2007 Mid-America Linguistics Conference, Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics Vol. 30, 135-149.

Chamorro umlaut seems to target a word-initial stressed syllable. It does not target non-initial stress. I argue instead that word-initial stress is the trigger of umlaut; failure of umlaut with non-initial stress is due to the lack of a trigger, not the distance of the target. (A longer version of the analysis appears in my dissertation.)

Pretonic Non-Prominence in Chamorro Umlaut (2008) Handout from paper presented at the Old World Conference in Phonology 5, Toulouse, France.

This handout addresses the same issue as MALC paper immediately above, but it focuses on the argument that umlaut is a response to the weakness of pretonic syllables in Chamorro.


Local Optionality with Partial Orders (2016) Phonology 33.2:285-324.

This paper argues that Partial Orders Theory, an account of optionality that involves adopting variable constraint rankings, can account for local optionality, contrary to claims in the literature. If the constraints involved in a variable ranking refer to specific positions (as many broadly accepted phonological constraints do), Partial Orders can produce outputs in which an optional process has applied at a proper subset of the available loci, an outcome previously argued to be impossible in this theory. 
OTSoft/OT Help/OTWorkplace files:
English: marketability_repetitive.txt marketability_workbook.xls;
French: deteledemander_otsoft.txt;
Pima (capitalization indicates a reduplicated stem): apricotpie.txt glassdishcloth.txt tamarack.txt wagonknife.txt

Inter- and Intra-Speaker Variation in French Schwa (2016) Glossa 1.1:19. (with Andrew Bayless and Abby Kaplan) DOI:

We present results from a corpus study of the optionality of French schwa to answer two main questions: Does schwa's optionality exist in the form of intra-speaker variation (i.e. do individual speakers produce multiple surface realizations for a single word)? And do different speakers show different rates of schwa omission? We answer "yes" to both questions. This has implications for theories of optionality: in particular, not all such theories allow the frequency at which a variable process is applied to vary across speakers. (Here is the poster we presented at Phonology 2013.)

Variation through Markedness Suppression (2011) Phonology 28, 331-370. (© Cambridge University Press; Also available here)

This paper develops a new way of accounting for optional process application in OT that covers a wider range of phenomena than standard approaches.

Iterative Optionality and Markedness Suppression. (2009) Poster presented at the LSA Annual Meeting, San Francisco. January 10.

This poster is an early version of the "Variation through Markedness Suppression" paper.

Other Research

Tonal and Morphological Identity in Reduplication (2012) Proceedings of BLS.

This paper examines the various ways in which tones interact with reduplication and the restrictions on reduplicant size in Adhola.

Noniterativity is an Emergent Property of Grammar (2008) Dissertation

I argue that noniterativity in phonology always emerges from the interaction of independent factors (adjacency of trigger and target, uniqueness of target, etc.) and never from a requirement that a process may occur just once.

Licensing and Noniterative Harmony in Lango (2008) Proceedings of NELS 37.

This is a condensed version of the analysis from my dissertation.

Peak Delay and Tonal Noniterativity (2008)

Myers (1999) presents evidence that noniterative tone spread in Chichewa is just peak delay, whereby a high pitch target is not reached until after the phonologically high-toned syllable. This paper formalizes peak delay in an OT analysis to account for tone spread in Chichewa and tone shift in Kikuyu. It is suggested that peak delay may be behind other reported cases of noniterativity in tone.

The Syllable as Contour Tone Host (2007) in Phonology at Santa Cruz 7.

This paper argues for the position that the syllable is the universal tone-bearing unit, even in the face of evidence that the mora is the TBU in at least some languages.

Vowel Length and Coda Cluster Interactions in Misantla Totonac (2006) Proceedings of of the 29th Penn Linguistics Colloquium vol. 12.1.

This paper argues for an elaboration of syllable structure to account for coda cluster restrictions in Misantla Totonac.

Long-Distance Wh-Movement in Chamorro (2005) Proceedings of AFLA 12.

This paper reconciles long-distance movement in Chamorro with Minimalism's Phase Impenetrability Condition.

Long-Distance Wh-Movement and Minimalism (2005) Qualifying Paper, UCSC.

This is a longer version of the paper immediately above.

Last Updated: 3/6/17