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Title:Phonetically Driven Phonology: The Role of Optimality Theory and Inductive Grounding
Authors:Bruce Hayes
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Abstract: As research in Optimality Theory moves beyond the largely prosodic

subject matter with which it began, a wider variety of constraints is

being considered. For instance, Pater (1995, 1996) shows that many

phonological effects emerge from the "NC" constraint, which

specifically bans voicelessness after nasals. Pater suggests that this

constraint emerges from phonetic principles; i.e. that it is

"grounded", in the sense of Archangeli and Pulleyblank (1994).

More generally, it appears from work of Pater, Steriade, and

others that a great number of phonological constraints are phonetically

grounded. Thus, in principle, by accessing the patterning of

phonetics, we should be able to increase the explanatory force of

phonological theory.

For this to happen, however, we need an explicit account of how

the constraints of the formal phonological grammar are related to

phonetics; specifically, to principles of articulatory ease and

perceptual distinctness. To this end I propose a theory of *inductive

grounding*, which consists of an algorithm by which the language

learner could access the knowledge gained from articulation and

perception, and form from it the appropriate set of phonological


The empirical focus of the paper is the phonology of obstruent

voicing. I apply inductive grounding to a set of phonetic values

obtained by aerodynamic modeling. From this simulation, I derive the

set of constraints that characteristically govern voicing in natural

languages, giving rise to postnasal voicing, intervocalic voicing,

devoicing in obstruent clusters, and place-related voicing effects.

Implications of inductive grounding for phonological acquisition and

for feature theory are discussed.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1