Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Optimality Theory (OT) is a fairly recent development within linguistics. It exploits the opposition between a drive for economy (favouring ‘simpler’ expressions over more complex ones) and a drive from reflecting differences in meaning in the form. All rules are soft, and can be violated if necessary to satisfy rules that are considered more important in the language and are ranked higher in the grammar. This chapter illustrates the essence of such an approach with a typology of plural morphology and chapter use. The goal is not to give a complete overview of how these grammatical categories are expressed cross-linguistically but rather to demonstrate how certain patterns of variation can be understood from the theoretical perspective of OT. The core question addressed is: what is the best way for the speaker to convey in his or her language information concerning singular/plural distinctions, definiteness, and discourse reference in the nominal form? The chapter is organized as follows. Section 22.2 develops a simple model and tests how it accounts for part of the cross-linguistic data. Sections 22.3 and 22.4 deal with extensions that enlarge the empirical coverage and open up a wider perspective.

Keywords: Optimality Theory, linguistics, language, plural morphology, chapter use, singular/plural distinctions, definiteness, discourse reference

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.