Typology of the Formation of â€œX-ERâ€ Diminutives in the Hebei Dialects: An Optimality-Theoretical Perspective
Keywords:diminutive, Optimality Theory, language typology, Hebei
Previous research of the diminutives in the Hebei dialects usually lacks the connection of language descriptions to linguistic theories. For this reason, this study targets to explore the formation of X-ER diminutives in the Hebei dialects in terms of the framework of optimality theory (OT). The data analyzed in this study come from the fieldwork survey records of related literature and the authorâ€™s fieldwork investigation. Four formational indexes (i.e., X-retroflexion, onset insertion, onset selection, and [Â«r]/[Â«Âµ] alternation) play decisive roles in shaping the X-ER diminutives. Constraints are proposed to deal with the formation of X-ER diminutives. Research results show that OT well captures the four formational indexes by a common set of constraints, and well functions in the analysis of the formation of synchronic X-ER diminutives in the Hebei dialects. Furthermore, the interaction of the four formational indexes generates a factorial typology, which can be accounted for by reranking the same set of constraints and can be attested by the synchronic dialects in Hebei Province. To conclude, the formation of X-ER diminutives in the Hebei dialect is well analyzed in OT, and the strength of OT in typological prediction is well supported in this study.
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