chapter  7
19 Pages

SPE. A case study: the diminutive suffi x in Dutch

Phonological rules are formal expressions that describe changes in the phonological representations of words. As a result of the application of a phonological rule, a segment may be inserted or deleted, or one or more of its feature values may be changed (to mention the most frequent types). In this chapter, we first deal with the formal notation for writing the rules introduced by Chomsky and Halle (1968) (SPE). Next, we will see that the assumption that rules are ordered, whereby the output of one rule serves as the input to the next, allows for simple phonological generalizations. After that, we will apply the SPE theory to the alternations in the diminutive suffix in two varieties of Dutch. A number of ordered rules will appear to be necessary to derive the morpheme alternants of the diminutive suffix in Standard Dutch, historically a western variety. We then consider diminutive formation in Sittard Dutch, a south-eastern variety, which has a different underlying form for the suffix as well as a number of different rules that are needed to derive the morpheme alternants. Moreover, some of the rules that they have in common will have to be ordered differently to obtain the correct results.1