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Title:Contrastiveness is an Epiphenomenon of Constraint Ranking
Authors:Robert Kirchner
Abstract: Contrastiveness Is an Epiphenomenon of Constraint Ranking

(forthcoming in Proceedings of BLS)



Robert Kirchner

In rule-based phonology, the theory of representations was guided by

the Jakobsonian view that phonetic properties which not contrastive in

any language are excluded from the inventory of phonological features,

so as not to predict unattested contrasts. In Optmality Theory,

however, it can be demonstrated that the contrastive or predictable

status of features in a sound system is determined by the ranking of

feature-specific faithfulness constraints w.r.t. constraints which

restrict the distribution of those features. Universally

non-contrastive features simply lack a corresponding faithfulness

constraint. Therefore, the phonological representation may in

principle contain an unlimited amount of phonetic detail, including

gradient distinctions, without thereby expanding the range of

contrasts available to UG (and one of the principal motivations for a

distinct phonetic component of the grammar is thereby removed).

Furthermore, following Ohala (1983, 1990), Steriade (1994), and Jun

(1995), I show that there is empirical justification for phonetic

enrichment of phonological representations, taking as an illustrative

case the duration of voiced and voiceless stops and its role in


Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1