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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2014, Vol. 45, No. 3, Pages 501-523
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00165)
@ 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nonlocal Trigger-Target Relations
Article PDF (1.54 MB)

This article argues that an approach to unbounded harmony that enforces restrictions only over adjacent elements undergenerates for patterns with nonlocal trigger-target relations. Such patterns may occur even in cases where assimilation propagates locally, as found in Baiyina Oroqen and Mọ̀bà Yorùbá. However, a harmony im(perative that is not restricted to adjacent elements is capable of producing these systems, in which a trigger may be related to both adjacent and nonadjacent targets. The appropriate one-to-many relational structure is compatible with Optimality Theory, where well-formedness is evaluated over the entire candidate at once, but it is not consistent with a local iterative spreading rule or an approach using a local spreading constraint, lacking additional constraints on nonlocal dependencies. This study thus identifies a previously unrecognized advantage of analyzing harmony within Optimality Theory, and it signals the necessity for any theory of harmony to handle nonlocal trigger-target relations.