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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents an overview of Optimality Theory (OT) as applied to phonology. OT is a theory of constraint interaction in grammar, which aims to solve a couple of problems that have confronted generative phonological theory since its earliest days. The first problem is conspiracies: in some languages, there is a constraint that seems to be satisfied in a variety of ways, as if the rules conspire to achieve a single target. The second problem is soft universals: unrelated languages show evidence of the same or similar constraints, but the constraints do not seem to hold in all languages. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 21.2 describes the architecture of OT, including its basic components and approach to typology. Section 21.3 addresses the status of the lexicon in OT. Section 21.4 and 21.5 describe some work on learnability, acquisition, and variation, and Section 21.6 concludes.

Keywords: constraint interaction, grammar, conspiracies, universals, typology, lexicon

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