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Title:The Emergence of the Unmarked pronoun: Chichewa Pronominals in Optimality Theory
Authors:Joan Bresnan
Comment:20pp, revised 5/24/97, to appear BLS 23; second file is for A4 (European) sized paper
Abstract: According to the principle of richness of the base, systematic

differences in the lexical inventories of languages cannot simply be

derived from language-particular constraints on lexical features or

morphology. All such differences must derive from the

rerankings of universal constraints. From the perspective of

generative syntax, however, this consequence initially seems

implausible, even absurd: after all, it has now been almost

universally accepted that much of syntax derives from the lexicon, but

the lexicon itself has been regarded as the residual core of what

cannot be predicted. In defence of this view it is often observed

that the inventory of forms present in each language reflects a

contingent and individual path of historical change and areal contact.

Previous OT syntax work on deriving the lexicon (e.g. Grimshaw 1995 on

empty 'do', Legendre, Smolensky, and Wilson 1995 on resumptive

pronouns, Grimshaw and Samek-Lodovici 1995 and Samek-Lodovici 1996 on

null and expletive pronouns, and Grimshaw 1996 on Romance clitics)

does not explicitly address the issues of contingency and markedness

taken up here.

While the contingency of the lexicon is inescapable, both

phonologists and functional linguists have recognized that linguistic

inventories also reflect universal patterns of markedness and are often

functionally motivated by perceptual and cognitive

constraints. I argue in support of this conclusion by showing

how different inventories of personal pronouns across languages may be

formally derived by the prioritizing of motivated constraints in

Optimality Theory. The contingency of the lexicon---exemplified by accidental

lexical gaps---then acts as a simple filter on the harmonic ordering

derived by the general theory.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1