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Title:The Consequences of Optimization for Underspecification
Authors:Sharon Inkelas
Abstract: The consequences of Optimization for Underspecification


uspec.ps, --.rtf

Sharon Inkelas

Department of Linguistics

UC Berkeley

Berkeley, CA 94720-2650

This paper argues for a theory in which underlying representation is

determined solely by optimization with respect to the grammar, not

by imposing any type of constraints directly on underlying

representation. Past principles of underspecification are based on

such grammar-blind principles as universal markedness ("Radical

Underspecification") or underlying segment inventory ("Contrastive

Specification"). I argue instead for an optimization approach to the

lexicon, based on an expanded principle of Lexicon Optimization

within Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993), in which

lexical representation is selected so as to optimize input-output

mappings in grammar. In combination with a principle of Grammar

Optimization, adapted from Kiparsky 1993, such that the optimal

grammar preserves the most underlying structure, Lexicon

Optimization results in a novel, utiliarian distribution of

underspecification. Underspecification is used when there are

alternant surface forms all of which are predictable from context or

grammatical defaults. Nonalternating structure which does not

condition alternations is, however, fully specified underlyingly.

This need-based approach to underspecification overcomes

objections raised to past theories of underspecification, rendering

unnecessary certain recent attempts to eliminate underspecification

from phonological theory (including Optimality Theory).

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1