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Title:Syllable Parsing in English and French
Authors:Michael Hammond
Comment:46 pp. File "Other" is the accompanying program in Perl (ascii file)
Abstract:Syllable parsing in English and French

Michael Hammond

University of Arizona

Also available on WWW


(Associated code in Perl that will also be available via the web.)

In this paper I argue that Optimality Theory provides for an

explanatory model of syllabic parsing in English and French. The argument

is based on psycholinguistic facts that have been mysterious up to now.

This argument is further buttressed by the computational implementation

developed here. This model is important for several reasons. First, it

provides a demonstration of how OT can be used in a performance domain.

Second, it suggests a new relationship between phonological theory and


The organization of this paper is as follows. First, I review the

linguistic evidence for syllable structure in English. Then, experimental

evidence is considered. The latter comes from tasks tapping into the units

of speech perception by speakers of English and French, and constitutes an

argument against the importation of rule-based syllabification into the

psycholinguistic domain, suggesting that an alternative constraint-based

approach might be more appropriate. We then review Optimality Theory (OT)

and present an approach to syllabic parsing in terms of OT that can

elegantly model the processing differences between English and French and

account readily for the linguistic facts of English. Finally, the model is

implemented in a computer program using Perl. The implementation is

interesting because i) it shows that the model proposed is computationally

feasible, and ii) it demonstrates the use of several devices - serial

constraint satisfaction and "local coding" - in reducing the candidate set.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1