Guide The Syllable in Optimality Theory

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Depending on the ranking of these constraints, the candidate that best satisfies the highest ranked constraints will be selected as optimal, i. Illustration of a typical OT tableau.

A Basic Introduction to Optimality Theory

In this illustrative mini-tableau, three potential candidates a, b, and c are evaluated against three constraints 1, 2, and 3. Violations are marked with an asterisk. A fatal violation, i. Elimination is also signaled by cell shading. Candidate a violates all three constraints. Candidate b violates only constraint 2. Candidate c is chosen as the optimal output candidate, indicated with the pointer finger icon, because it satisfies both of the highly ranked constraints 1 and 2.

While candidate c does violate constraint 3, this violation is non-fatal because all of the other candidates have already been eliminated. Ideally, a critical ranking should be demonstrated for all constraints i. Just such a ranking can be demonstrated for constraints 2 and 3; constraint 2 must be ranked higher than constraint 3 because the winning candidate violates constraint 3 but not constraint 2. Critical rankings are indicated with a solid line between the two columns. The dotted line between constraint 1 and constraint 2 indicates that no critical ranking could be found based on just these candidates.

OT can model diachrony through changes in constraint rankings from one stage of grammar to the next. If children assume a different ranking for these constraints than the adults use, a change in the grammar will result. The majority of rerankings likely stem from innocent misapprehension of constraint rankings as learners acquire the grammar. Some surface structures may be compatible with multiple rankings.

Below, I will demonstrate that PIE and Pre-Latin speakers acquired the first grammar, but that by the Classical Latin period, speakers had changed to the latter grammar. Since ST -clusters are the only SSP -violating clusters in Latin, unambiguous data would have been lacking, allowing for the observed change in ranking to occur eventually.

The difference in reduplication among the four Indo-European languages below can be modeled through variable ranking of five constraints on prosodic structure and alignment:. In principle, this constraint would apply to both root and reduplicant onsets; however, in practice, faithfulness constraints not shown below for presentational ease will prevent this constraint from forcing all simplex onset segments in Latin to turn into stops.

Since extraprosodic segments are by definition outside the prosodic word, they would cause a violation of this constraint. This constraint will be violated by any segments to the left of the root in this case, the reduplicant. By penalizing reduplicant segments, the grammar encourages the shortest possible realization of the morpheme.

Based purely on the evidence of reduplication, I will only be able to achieve partial rankings for these five constraints in each of the four grammars below. To further simplify the tableaux, I will omit conceivable candidates that are harmonically bounded i. In PIE , the highest-ranked constraints, the alignment constraints, all conspire to keep the reduplicant as small as possible. We should not expect the SSP to be very highly ranked, since it is regularly violated in onsets in the general grammar. Furthermore, the grammar has no reason to produce an extraprosodic S of the [spo.

The speakers merely conserved an archaism. There is good evidence that the SSP is not highly ranked in Germanic languages: in English, for example, tautosyllabic ST clusters block aspiration on voiceless stops, since the voiceless stop is not initial in its syllable. At least in terms of its reduplicative pattern, Gothic is very similar to PIE :.

The only major difference between the Gothic and PIE reduplication is that PIE consistently reduplicated with only a single consonant and vowel, while in Gothic two consonants must be copied into the reduplicant when the onset cluster violated the SSP. The margin constraint penalizes the candidate sai. This change in ranking was likely motivated by a generalization made by speakers concerning the type of consonants generally reduplicated. In most cases of reduplication, it is the less sonorous segment, which is also the most optimal word onset, that is copied.

It will only be the case with ST clusters that the less sonorous segment is not the first segment. By copying both segments, speakers maintain their generalization at the expense of the root alignment constraint. This grammar will not overgenerate full reduplication with roots that begin with falling-sonority clusters such as TR - :.

Both consonants of a cluster will only be copied if the left-most consonant in a branching onset is the more sonorous one: i. Like the Gothic grammar above, in Latin we also see the margin constraint penalizing the copying of a less sonorous segment. The stop is preserved in reduplication because it is a less marked onset. Furthermore, the promotion of the SSP in the general grammar above the two alignment constraints Red-L and Root-L prevents ST -clusters from forming tautosyllabic branching onsets.

This promotion would serve as a simplification of the Latin grammar; because sibilant-stop clusters are the only ones inherited into Latin that violate the SSP after the loss of laryngeals , speakers would have no unambiguous data that the SSP is violable. Therefore, because both structures are possible given the Latin lexicon, speakers could easily promote the SSP to unite all onsets according to sonority.

This extraprosodic S also does not cause further violations of the root alignment constraint, since the S is outside the prosodic word i. Instead, one must assume it is merely lexicalized. In Sanskrit, too, the SSP has been promoted in the general grammar, 16 so we expect to see SSP effects in the reduplicative template, as well.

What Constraints Are There on Linguistic Sounds? Optimality Theory

The difference between the Sanskrit and Latin forms shows that in Sanskrit it is less costly to split the root-initial cluster across a syllable boundary i. In both languages, though, we see the effects of a conspiracy against tautosyllabic SSP -violating clusters. This is not to say the conspiracy was inherited; instead, these developments must have been completely independent. Sanskrit speakers would have had robust evidence that root-initial clusters need not be tautosyllabic after an inflectional morpheme; the augment would also cause the same kind of syllabification, as in as.

In Latin, precisely the opposite data would have been available to speakers; since no verbs are augmented in Latin, there would be no precedent in the language for root-initial clusters becoming heterosyllabic after inflectional prefixes. Judgments based upon the behavior of reduplication of SSP -violating clusters may have been less robust in Latin, since there are so few of them. Most of the metrical evidence from the corpus of Latin poetry points to heterosyllabicity of ST -clusters.

Short vowels before medial ST -clusters generally scan long by position rather than short in an open syllable in Plautus, and systematically scan long by position in the Classical Latin period. Brevis Brevians, the shorting of expected long syllables, which occurs in some words containing medial ST cannot be understood as a true prosodic property of the language, since it also triggers short scansions before clusters that absolutely cannot be argued to form onsets in Latin e.

Instead, Brevis Brevian must merely be a peculiar feature of archaic Latin poetry. Whatever its explanation is, it cannot be a reflection of syllable structure. Synchronic phonological processes offer even clearer evidence for how speakers were treating the cluster. All of the processes pointing to tautosyllabic treatments of the cluster, open syllable syncope and evidence of the initial stress pattern, were active in the Pre-Literary period.

Both the tautosyllabic and heterosyllabic processes are consistent with the very early preservation of SSP violations in onsets inherited from PIE and a later promotion of the SSP during the Pre-Literary period. As Nishimura , fn 34 points out, this form is problematic for most formulations of the weakening rule. The morphological evidence of reduplication corroborates the story told by these synchronic phonological processes.

Thus, it must be an innovation of Latin. It points very clearly to a stage of Latin after the SSP has been promoted, since it requires an extraprosodic S structure. The attestation of this reduplication type already in the text of Plautus further shows that by the time of the Early Republic poets, ST clusters must have been heterosyllabic, and therefore Brevis Brevians scansions must not be a reflection of the synchronic language.

Although branching onsets with violations of the Sonority Sequencing Principle were inherited from PIE , ST -clusters must have ceased being tautosyllabic very early, perhaps by the end of the Pre-Literary period. By Classical Latin, medial s is certainly not tautosyllabic with adjacent stops anymore. The phonological evidence of syncope, weakening, and accentuation also support the early change from tautosyllabic to heterosyllabic treatment. Extraprosodic S has been retained into Modern Romance, with the exception of Romanian, which has re-developed branching onsets with falling sonority.

I am also indebted to Ben Fortson for his help with Plautine meter. All errors and omissions that remain are, of course, my own. Adams, J.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Becker, Michael, and Katherine Flack Potts. The emergence of the unmarked. The Blackwell Companion to Phonology , ed. Ewen, Elizabeth Hume, and Keren Rice, vol. Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell. Reconstructing Indo-European syllabification. UCLA dissertation. Predicting Indo-European syllabification through phonotactic analysis. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. Cho, Young-mee Yu. Language change as reranking of constraints.

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Phonology Holt, D. Remarks on Optimality Theory and language change. Optimality Theory and Language Change , ed. Eric Holt, 1— Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Jasanoff, Jay H. Hittite and the Indo-European verb. New York: Oxford University Press. Juret, A. Kavitskaya, Darya. Hittite vowel epenthesis and the sonority hierarchy. Diachronica Evidence for non-linear phonological structure in Indo-European: The case of fricative clusters.

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A Basic Introduction to Optimality Theory | Syllable | Phonology

Kobayashi, Masato. Historical phonology of Old Indo-Aryan consonants. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Marin, Stefania. The temporal organization of complex onsets and codas in Romanian: A gestural approach. Journal of Phonetics Marin, Stefania, and Marianne Pouplier. Temporal organization of complex onsets and codas in American English: Testing the predictions of a gestural coupling model.

Motor Control Marotta, Giovanna. It was originally conceived as an alternative to Generative Phonology, but it has been extended to syntax and other domains of linguistics.

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This is a summary of Optimality Theory for introductory linguistics students, based in large part on Kager and incorporating other works as necessary. At the heart of Optimality Theory is the insight that some aspects of language generation are easier to understand as a system of interacting constraints than as a system of ordered rules. The constraints are universal, but each language variety puts them in a unique ranking. The interactions among these constraints are represented with tableaux; we will see some tableaux in the examples.

There are two kinds of constraints in Optimality. Markedness constraints include the variety of ways that language users can make their languages easier to pronounce. Faithfulness constraints assume that there is an underlying phonemic representation input in the lexicon, and they prevent the words output from being distorted beyond recognition by the markedness constraints. I have included a list of the most commonly cited constraints at the end of this introduction, but here are ten that I will be focusing on in the examples.

The first five are markedness constraints, and the last five are faithfulness constraints. To illustrate the basics of Optimality, Kager analyzes the differences between Dutch and English with respect to syllable-final voicing. In this respect, Dutch behaves like German in the Language Files example. Kager uses the following tableaux to show this:.

Here is a similar tableau for English:. We can borrow another example from the Language Files 4. In English, syllable-final nasals assimilate to the place features of the following consonant, while in French they do not:. In order to allow syllable-initial consonants to show distinctions of place, there is an Ident-IO-Onset Place constraint that is ranked higher than these place markedness constraints.

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For the contrasting case of French, the general Ident-IO Place constraint is ranked higher than the place markedness constraints:. A similar analysis can be made for R-dropping in certain dialects Orgun, ; Abe, List of Constraints: Many constraints have been proposed in Optimality Theory. Here is a longer list of constraints. References: Abe, H. R dropping and R insertion in Received Pronunciation : A new look at an old problem.

Research reports of the Tsuruoka Technical College Gafos, A. A grammar of gestural coordination. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory Kager, R. Optimality theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Orgun, C. English r-insertion in Optimality Theory. Read Free For 30 Days. A Basic Introduction to Optimality Theory. Description: Optimality Theory is a way of understanding how the human mind generates language. Copyright: Attribution BY. Flag for inappropriate content. Related titles.