Crosslinguistically, medial consonant clusters simplify by deleting or assimilating the first consonant /VpkV/ → [VkV] ~ [VkkV], never the second *[VpV] ~ *[VppV] (Steriade 2001, 2001/2008). Wilson (2000, 2001) demonstrates that this generalization holds in a number of different languages including Basque, Carib, Tunica, Diola-Fogny, and West Greenlandic. Parallel Optimality Theory (OT) fails to capture this asymmetry, as the output consonant appears in the onset regardless of its position in the input. McCarthy (2007, 2008) proposes a solution to this problem within Harmonic Serialism (HS), by postulating that deletion of the onset—that is, the second consonant—involves a step that is not harmonically improving. The prediction that onset consonants in clusters never delete has been recognized as one of the crucial arguments for HS compared to parallel OT.

Kurisu (2012) challenges this generalization by bringing forth data from Japanese where onsets, not...

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