Fortition in Marked on Marked Contexts

Velar Stopping in Sylheti

  • Ankita Prasad Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi


This paper presents a harmonic grammar analysis of the alternation of the velar voiceless fricative /x/ and the corresponding stop /k/ in the environment of high vowels /i/ and /u/ in Sylheti. This process occurs in several different environments: tautosyllabically [CVC], heterosyllabically [CV.C,] and the geminate [VC.CV]. I argue that the fricative undergoes fortition to a stop only when sonority requirements (*M1) become apparent in marked contexts (such as in the geminate condition (*M2), or in conjunction with *fricative and *dorsal) leading to fortition in special environments where constraints “gang up”, i.e., when the cumulative weight of markedness constraints outweigh the weight of the faithfulness constraints.