Download Change, Chance, and Optimality by April McMahon PDF

By April McMahon

This ebook is set how languages swap. it's also a devastating critique of Optimality Theory-the dominant conception in modern phonology and more and more influential all through linguistics. the writer units out its foundation ideas and exhibits it to be incapable of explaining both language swap or version. OT depends upon the innateness of sure human language colleges and for this reason must clarify the origins of allegedly genetically-specified positive aspects. Professor McMahon considers the character and evolution of the human language skill, and divulges a profound mismatch among the predictions of evolutionary biology and the claims for innateness made in OT. She argues additional that any convincing concept of linguistic swap needs to take account of the jobs of historical past and likelihood. - ;This booklet is set how languages swap. it's also a devastating critique of a frequent linguistic orthodoxy. April McMahon argues that to supply a resounding clarification of linguistic switch the jobs of background and contingency needs to be accommodated in linguistic idea. She additionally exhibits that theoretical paintings in comparable disciplines can be utilized to evaluate the price of such theories. Optimality concept, or OT because it is mostly referred to as, dominates modern phonology, in particular within the united states, and is turning into more and more influential in syntax and language acquisition. Having set out its foundation rules, Professor McMahon assesses their explanatory energy in analysing language switch and its residues in present phonological platforms. utilizing cross-linguistic info, and drawing comparisons with different theories in and out linguistics, she indicates that OT is incapable of accounting for language switch, with out the addition of principles and an appreciation of probability and historic contingency that might then undermine its theoretical underpinnings. OT is determined by innateness and wishes to debate the origins of allegedly genetically-specified good points. the writer considers the character and evolution of the human language capability, and demonstrates a profound mismatch among the predictions of evolutionary biology and the claims for innateness made in OT. - ;This ambitious critique of Optimality conception (OT) might be required studying for all graduate scholars in linguistics. Phonologists of each stripe - synchronic and diachronic, whatever the theories during which they paintings - forget about it at their peril. an individual with even a passing curiosity in linguistic concept could even be good recommended to learn it, simply because its implications achieve well past phonology to contain present hypotheses concerning the nature and evolution of human language ... this quantity should still solidfy McMahon's recognition as the most insightful linguistic theorists at the moment writing. - common Linguistics;A serious contribution to the talk on how Optimality idea money owed (or can't account) for ancient swap ... a difficult and lengthy examine the claims and practices of OT. - Years paintings in English Studies;A gorgeous booklet, elegantly argued and deftly written. an immense theoretical critique, confronting Optimality thought and different formalist innatist paradigms with the realities of evolutionary biology and neuroscience. the most very important and complex works in phonological idea of the earlier couple of many years. - Roger Lass, college of Cape city

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Extra resources for Change, Chance, and Optimality

Sample text

This explosion of mechanisms is reflected in the notation, so Change, Chance, and Optimality with tableaux becoming more complex and creatively presented by the day: we now find (see Bermudez-Otero 1999: 14, 146) not only the familiar pointy hands, but pointy hands pointing backwards ~ for transparent losing candidates, sad faces ® for counterfactually losing candidates, stars ~ and flowers @ in cases of sympathy, and unexploded bombs ~: for counterfactually winning candidates. It is comforting to know that the Wingdings font still includes any number of unused fancy arrows and other arcana like signs of the zodiac, ripe for OT exploitation.

These seem fairly cut-and-dried statements, and instead of parametric variation, Prince and Smolensky presumably envisage such constraints as ranking high in languages like Lardil, but low to the point of invisibility in languages where geminates or f t occur frequently. This implies that there are innate constraints referring to every possible segment or sequence type, and that the learner has to suppress these constraints during acquisition in rather the way 22 Change, Chance, and Optimality assumed in Natural Generative Phonology, where children are seen as suspending natural rules which they are predisposed to apply, just in case these are not manifested in the relevant input data (Stampe 1972; Donegan 1993).

For intrusive [r], McCarthy's r-insertion rule will be indexed with FINAL-C, and constitutes a repair strategy triggered by violation of that constraint, the interaction between the two being determined by the Elsewhere Condition. For this proposal to work, however, Blevins must reject the parallel version of Gen preferred by Prince and Smolensky (1993) for an alternative serial-sequential model. It is clear that this interesting approach will circumscribe Gen, but various open questions remain.

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