The Optimality Theory And Related Issues English Language Essay

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This paper briefly introduees optimality theory (OT) and two related issues. OT has been in introduced by Alan prince and Paul Smolensk in (1993) mainly as a model for generative phonology , but in recent years this approach has been applied successfully to a range of syntactic phenomena and it is currently gaining popularity in semantics and pragmatics as well.


Optimality theory (OT) usually takes the Generation perspective . It is a theory about the optimal realization of given underlyiny form on a some what more abstract level , the OT philosophy can be deseribed by the idea that only the most economieal candidates of given candidate set are leg it mate linguistic objects , less economical competitors are blocked. Furthermore , OT offers an intriguing perspective on language typology on the one hand and langyage universals on the other hand , (Gerhard) ager , 1997a) .this paper looks at optimality optimality theory in Grammer , functional OT & the optimality theory - Harmonic Grammar connection . that each of this theory was developed by different persons during recent years.


The standard phonological rule aims to encode grammatical generalizations in this format:

(1) A B/C-D

The rule scans potential inputs for structures CAD and performs the change on them that is explicitly spelled out in the rule: the unit denoted by A takes on property B. For this format to be worth pursuing, there must be an interesting theory which defines the class of possible predicates CAD (Structural Descriptiqns) and another theory which defines the class of possible operations A B (Structural Changes).Suppose that the input-output relation is governed by conditions on the well-formedness of the output, 'markedness constraints', and by conditions asking for the exact preservation of the input in the output along various dimensions, 'faithfulness constraints' .In this case, many possibilities are open to contemplation, but some well-defined measure of value excludes all but the best.The process can be schematically represented like this:

(2) Structure of Optimality-theoretic grammar

a. Gen (Ink) {Out1, Out2, ... }

b. H-eval( Outi, I I ) OUreal

The grammar must define a pairing of underlying and surface forms, (input1, outputs). Each input is associated with a candidate set of possible analyses by the function Gen (short for 'generator'), a fixed part of Universal Grammar. In the rich representational system employed below, an output form retains its input as a subrepresentation, so that departures from faithftilness may be detected by scrutiny of output forms alone. A 'candidate' is an input-output pair, here formally encoded in what is called 'Out1' in (2). Gen contains information about the representational primitives and their universally irrevocable relations: for example, that the node may dominate a node Onset or a node . (implementing some theory of syllable structure), but never vice versa. Gen will also determine such matters as whether every segment must be syllabified - we assume not, below, following McCarthy 1979 et seq.- and whether every node of syllable structure must dominate segmental material- again, we will assume not, following It 1986, 1989. The function H-eval determines the relative Harmony of the candidates, imposing an order on the entire set. An optimal output is at the top of the harmonic order on the candidate set; by definition, it best satisfies the constraint system.

3- Optimality in Grammar: Core Syllabification in lmd lawn Tashlhiyt Berber

Here we argue that certain grammatical processes can only be properly understood as selecting the optimal output from among a set of possibilities, where the notion optimal is defined in terms of the constraints bearing on the grammatical domain at issue.

3.1 The Heart of Dell & Elmedlaoui

The Imdlawn Tashlhiyt dialect of Berber (ITB) has been the object of a series of remarkable studies by François Dell and Mohamed Elmedlaoui (Dell & Elmedlaoui 1985, 1988, 1989). Perhaps their most suprising empirical finding is that in this language any segment - consonant or vowel, obstruent or sonorant - can form te nucleus of syllable. One regularly encounters syllables of the shape tK, rB, xZ, wL, for example (capitatization represents nucleus - hood of consonsonants) Dell and Elmedlaoui marshall a compelling range of evidence in support of the claimed patterns of syllabification. In addition to native speaker intuition, they adduce effects from segmental phonology (emphasis spread), intonation, Versification practice, and prosodic morphology, all of which agree in respecting their syllabic analysis . We conclude that the Dell-Elmedlaoui results establish clearly that harmonic processing is a grammatical mechanism, and that optimality-based analysis gives results in complex cases. Let us now establish a formal platform that can support this finding

3.2 Optimality Theory

What, then, is the optimal syllable that Harmonic Syllabification seeks. In the core process that we are focusing on, two constraints are at play, one ensuring onsets, the other evaluating nuclei. The onset constraint can be stated like this (Ito 1986, 1989): (3) The Onset Constraint (ONS). Syllables must have onsets (except phrase initially) As promised, we are not going to explicate the parenthesized caveat, which is not really part of the basic constraint (see McCarthy & Prince 1993 )( 4) The Nuclear Harmony Constraint (HNuc). A higher sonority nucleus is more harmonic than jne of lower sonority.

I.e. If then Nuc/x > Nuc/y.

The formalizing restatement appended to the constraint uses some notation that will prove useful. For 'x is more harmonic than y' we write x > y.

For 'the intrinsic prominence of x' we write .

'A/x' means 'x belongs to category A, x is the constituent-structure child of A'

The two kinds of order >/ and > are distinguished notationally to emphasize their conceptual distinctness. Segments of high sonority are not more harmonic than those of lower sonority. It is only when segments are contemplated in a structural context that the issue of well-formedness arises. It is necessary to specify not only the relevant constraints, but also the set of candidates to be evaluated. To do this we need to spell out the function Gen that admits to candidacy a specific range of structurings or parses of the input. In the case at hand, we want something roughly like this:

(5) Gen (inputi): the set of (partial) syllabifications of inputi which differ from input­i in no more than one syllabic adjunction.

For any form input1 to undergo Serial Harmonic Syllabification, the candidate set Gen(inputi) must be evaluated with respect to the constraints ONs and HNUC. There would be little to say if evaluation were simply a matter of choosing the candidate that satisfies both constraints. Crucially, and typically, this straightforward approach cannot work. Conflict between the constraints ONs and HNUC is unavoidable; there are candidate sets in which no candidate satisfies both constraints. (see , prince & Smolensk, 1993).


The functional hypothesis for phonology (Passy 1890) maintains that sound structures reflect an interaction between the articulator and perceptual principles of efficient and effective communication . The theory of functional phonology (Boersma 1997a) maintains tha this interaction is directly reflected in the grammar: it handles substance - related phonological phenomena within the constraint - ranking framework introduced by optimality Theory (Pincer & Smolensk 1993) , but without the need for positing innate features and hierarchies ; if restricted to gestural and faithfulness constraints , its scope equals that of autosegmental phonology and feature geometry .

4.1 Grammar model

Functional phonology makes a principled distinction between articulatory and perceptual representations and features. Figure 1 shows its concept of the grammatical correlates of the systems ,processes , and representations of the speech production and perception systems of a single speaker - listener :

In figure 1.we see following representations :

(1) The acoustic input of the speech uttered by another person, as presented to the ear of the listener; written between brackets because it is a language-independent representation.

(2) The perceptual input: the speech uttered by another person, as perceived by the listener, in terms of perceptual features (periodicity, noise, spectrum) and their combinations; written between slashes.

(3) A perceptual speciflcation in terms of perceptual features, as stored in the language user's lexicon; written between pipes.

(4) The articulatory output of the speaker, in terms of articulatory gestures (articulator positions, muscle tensions) and their combinations; written between brackets.

(5) The acoustic output of the speaker: an automatic result of her articulatory output; also written between brackets.

(6) The perceptual output of the speaker: her acoustic output, as perceived by herself; written between slashes.

Figure 1 also shows the following processing systems:

• The speaker's production system determines the surface form of the utterance from an underlying perceptual specification.

• The listener's perceptual categorization system determines how a listener converts the raw acoustic input to a more perceptual representation; she uses the system for the acoustic input from other speakers as well as for her own acoustic output.

• The listener's recognition system converts the perceptual input into an underlying form (and helps the categorization system).

• A comparison module on behalf of language acquisition. If the learner's output, as perceived by herself, differs from the adult utterance, as perceived by the learner, the learner will take a learning step (Boersma, to appear; Boersma 1 997b).

The abbreviations ART and FAITH refer to arriculatory and faithfulness constraints, as explained below.

4.2 Constraint-ranking grammars and functionalism

Consider the process of place assimilation of nasals in Dutch. The words /tRin/ 'train' and /pak/ 'catch' will often be concatenated as /tRimpak/. The process is confined to the coronal nasal: bilabial nasals, velar nasals, and plosives at any place, do not usually assimilate.(n see , boersma 1997a)

5. The Optimality Theory __

Harmonic Grammar Connection

Harmonic Grammar plays a key role in the overall ICS architecture: it mediateds between the highest- level descriptions of fully symbolic Optimality Theory , and the lowest - level descriptions purely in terms of connectionist net works. In addition , HG and OT are both relatively new frameworks, and most of the questions we will address concerning their relationship are still open; much of the discussion will therefore be somewhat speculative.


The fundamental similarities between Harmonic Grammar and Uptimality Theory are fairly evident: the output of the mappings specified by the grammar - the structures declared grammatical -are those that optimally satisfy a set of constraints . which apply in parallel to evaluate alternatives; the constraints are simple - that is, general - and therefore typically in conflict. Conflicts are adjudicated by the differential strength the grammar assigns to constraints

5.1.1. Universality

A principle absolutely central to Optimality Theory is the universality of grammatical strutures and constraints. This is one respect in which OT is more restricted than HG. While language-particular analysis plays an important role in OT as in all gramma'tical theory, OT places a strong emphasis on explaining cross-linguistic patterns via the reranking of a fixed set of hypothesized universal constraints.



In this section we inspect the Hannonic GrammarOptimality Theory relation from the perspective of empirical linguistics, taking an HG account and recasting it in OT terms to compare the views of a single phenomena which are revealed by the two different theoretical lenses.( Legendre , Sorace & Smolensky .2003)

6- conclution

In this paper , we in vestigated optimality theory and two related issues - functional OT and HG connection to OT. We have seen how prince and smolesky( 1993/2004) analyse of this system can be directly realized in a Harmonic grammar , where exponentially weighted Constar aint implement strick domination . moreover , we have seen the hypothesis of funetional phonology is that the production and categoryzation systems can be describe with optimality - The oretic constraint - rankiny grammars that contain direct translations of principles of mimization of articulatory effort and perceptual confusion.

7- A knowledgements

Parts of the material laid down here presented In Alan & Paul Smolensky,s paper (OPTIMALITY THEORY).I wish to thank to Abdorreza Tahriri (phD in TEFL) for his remarks that have had significant impact on the development of this paper .


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