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Title:What it Means to be a Loser: Non-optimal Candidates in Optimality Theory
Authors:Andries W Coetzee
Comment:Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Abstract:ROA 687-0904

What it Means to be a Loser: Non-optimal Candidates in Optimality Theory

Andries W Coetzee

Direct link: http://roa.rutgers.edu/view.php3?roa=687

In this dissertation I propose a rank-ordering model of EVAL. This
model differs from classic OT as follows: In classic OT, EVAL
distinguishes the best candidate from the losers, but does not
distinguish between different losers. I argue that EVAL imposes a
harmonic rank-ordering on the complete candidate set, so that also the
losers are ordered relative to each other. I show how this model of
EVAL can account for non-categorical phenomena such as variation and
phonological processing.

Variation. In variation there is more than one pronunciation for a
single input. Grammar determines the possible variants and the relative
frequency of the variants. I argue that EVAL imposes a harmonic
rank-ordering on the entire candidate set, and that language users can
access more than the best candidate from this rank-ordering. However,
the accessibility of a candidate depends on its position in the
rank-ordering. The higher a candidate appears, the more often it will
be selected as output. The best candidate is then the most frequent
variant, the second best candidate the second most frequent variant,
etc. I apply this model to vowel deletion in Latvian and Portuguese,
and to [t, d]-deletion in English.

Phonological processing. Language users rely on grammar in
word-likeness judgments and lexical decision tasks. The more
well-formed a non-word, the more wordlike language users will judge it
to be. A more well-formed a non-word is considered more seriously as a
possible word, and language users will be slower to reject it in a
lexical decision task. The rank-ordering model of EVAL accounts for
this as follows: EVAL compares non-words and imposes a rank-ordering on
them. The higher a non-word occurs in this rank-ordering, the more
well-formed it is. Therefore, the higher a non-word occurs, the more
word-like it will be judged to be, and the more slowly it will be
rejected in lexical decision tasks. I illustrate this by discussing
two sets of experiments on how grammar influences phonological
processing. The first set investigates the influence of the OCP on
processing in Hebrew, and the second the influence of a constraint on
[sCvC]-words in English.

Comments: Ph.D. Dissertation, UMass
Keywords: variation, processing, EVAL, lexical decision, wordlikeness, vowel deletion
Areas: Phonology, Formal Analysis, Psycholinguistics
Type: PhD Dissertation
Area/Keywords:Phonology, Formal Analysis, Psycholinguistics
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