Eighth North American Phonology Conference, Concordia University, Montréal, Canada
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I consider two cases of predictable distributions of phonological categories: ‘tense’ and ‘lax’ long vowels in South-West Welsh and the two varieties of the FACE vowel in Ulster English. Their predictable (‘non-phonemic’) distribution is a challenge to the Contrastivist Hypothesis, but I argue that it can be accommodated if we assume that learning, including category formation, proceeds bottom-up, and that learners do not unlearn predictably distributed categories unless compelled to do so by alternations. This forces even predictably distributed symbols into underlying representations, and the Contrastivist Hypothesis is not falsified. The bottom-up learning also predicts the possibility of ‘leaks’ (i.e. imperfect transmission of the conditions of the distribution), and the prediction appears correct in both cases considered here.