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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article investigates a particular type of underspecification: ‘perseverant’. It provides an example of a more common type of underspecification for purposes of contrast and then reviews two cases of perseverant underspecification, a Russian example discussed in Keating and the case of Marshallese vowels. The article then describes the details of a constraint ranking that would capture this underspecification in an adult grammar. Next, it addresses how an adult grammar of this type can be acquired. Some additional supporting data from Marshallese loanwords is reported. The case of Marshallese vowels is a rather more elaborate instance of perseverant underspecification and one that will highlight the questions which such underspecification cases raise for acquisition. The article turns to the question of the acquisition of underspecified forms in an Optimality–Theoretic framework. The Marshallese case reveals several shortcomings in Optimality Theory, as traditionally practised.

Keywords: perseverant underspecification, Marshallese vowels, adult grammar, Marshallese loanwords, Optimality Theory

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