Headmost Accent Wins investigates the accentuation of lexical accent systems within the framework of Optimality Theory. The central claims of the book are: first, words with a lexical accent have unpredictable stress but predictable prosodic shape, and second, prosodic structure is built on the basis of morphological structure.
A lexical accent is an autosegmental feature which is phonetically realized as stress or pitch according to language-specific constraints. Even though the specification of accents is free and unrestricted, independent prosodic constraints on word from limit their distribution. As a result, accented words have a strictly binary prosodic structure. Freedom of the input, on the one hand, and constraint ranking on the other derive a confined set of ‘ideal’ prosodic forms for words with lexical accents.
Conflicts among lexical accents for prominence are resolved by morphology. The prosody-morphology interface centers around the principal of prosodic compositionality. It is articulated in terms of a theory of head dominance, which state that the accent of the morphological head of the word prevails over other accents. The theory of head dominance is tested in a number of morphological constructions in languages with different types of morphology (i.e. fusional, polysynthetic). In addition, it is shown that head dominance voids the need for the complex derivational machinery of cyclic and non-cyclic levels. Moreover, it directly derived the effects of the metaconstraint ROOTFAITH >> SUFFIXFAITH (McCarthy & Prince 1995) and, more importantly, it accounts for the counterexamples to this metaconstraint.
This book is of interest to metrical phonologists, linguists working on the prosody-morphology