Variation at the Morphology-Phonology Interface in Appalachian English
McQuaid, Goldie Ann
This dissertation presents results from a qualitative and quantitative study of variable a-prefixing ("she's a-making good money") in Appalachian English (AppE), using recently collected data from speakers in Southwestern Virginia and Eastern Tennessee, areas of Appalachia unstudied by previous researchers. The study combines a traditional sociolinguistic VARBRUL analysis with formal modeling of the factors that license a-prefixing. The study confirms many of the restrictions found in previous sociolinguistic research (Wolfram and Christian 1976; Wolfram 1976, 1980; Feagin 1979; Christian et al. 1988; Montgomery 2009), and offers a formal analysis using morpho-syntactic features (Cowper 1993, 1995 a, b, 1999, 2003a,b) and Optimal Interleaving (Wolf 2008).Chapter 2 reviews the sociolinguistic literature on a-prefixing. Chapter 3 details the data used in the present study and the hypotheses tested. Chapter 4 presents results of a VARBRUL analysis. Two categorical phonological restrictions described in previous literature hold in the data. Five factors affect variation in a-prefixing: sex, perception verb, necessity modal (e.g., should) `anti-mirative' elements, and base argument structure.Chapter 5 offers a formal account of a-prefixing. Based on results for pragmatic factor groups in the VARBRUL analysis, it is argued there are two progressive morphs in AppE: the variable circumfixal mirative<italic>a- ... -ing</italic>, which alternates with mirative <italic>-ing</italic>, and the non-mirative <italic>-ing</italic>. <italic>A</italic>-prefixing is suggested to be an exemplar of arbitrary preference allomorphy.The mirative morphs a- ... -ing and -ing are lexically listed. The circumfixed morph places selectional restrictions on possible bases, including the restriction that bases be composed of the morpho-syntactic feature [INTERVAL] (Cowper 1995 a, b, 1999, 2003a,b). Circumfixation is licensed with verbal, but not homophonous nominal bases.An analysis of allomorph selection is formalized using Wolf's (2008) serial theory of the morphology-phonology interface, Optimal Interleaving (OI). The circumfixal morph is analyzed as encoding a proper superset of the features encoded by -ing forms. In addition to mapping the feature [INTERVAL], the circumfix faithfully maps the morpho-pragmatic feature [MIRATIVE]. Because it more faithfully encodes underlying features, the morph a- ... -ing is preferentially inserted when phonological restrictions of the circumfix are satisfied.
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