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Title:Process-Specific Constraints in Optimality Theory
Authors:John J. McCarthy
Abstract:Process-Specific Constraints in Optimality Theory

John McCarthy
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Published (1997)in Linguistic Inquiry 28, 231?251.

Similar phonological processes can be governed by ifferentconstraints. Davis (1995 LI) claims that the effect of such process-specific constraints cannot be obtained in Optimality Theory, exemplifying this point with material from harmony in Palestinian Arabic. On the contrary, I show that process-specific constraints are a natural and expected result of constraint ranking, which is the fundamental idea of Optimality Theory. Furthermore, Optimality Theory makes a novel and restrictive prediction, the subset criterion, about co-existent process-specific constraints within a single grammar. This prediction derives empirical support from a reanalysis of the Palestinian harmony systems.

Davis also presents evidence that epenthetic segments have featural specifications, claiming that Optimality Theory says they are featureless. This is incorrect; Optimality Theory is a model of constraint interaction, not of the representation of epenthetic segments.

Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Phonology,Formal Analysis
Article:Version 1