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Title:Frequency effects and Optimality Theory
Authors:James Myers
Comment:This hasn't been revised since May 2005, other than minor reformatting.
Abstract:[Second author: Yingshing Li]

This really dense handout addresses the problems for Optimality Theory posed by lexical frequency effects in phonological lenition. Such patterns are clearly 'postlexical', yet are sensitive to lexical information. In fact, they are 'phoneticky' (variable across utterance tokens and articulatorily gradient), suggesting that lexical representations are themselves phonetically detailed. Moreover, since lenition is consistently more common and stronger in forms with higher lexical ferquency, the phonological/lexical link is systematic, not arbitrary as such links should be. Our solution is to encode gradient lexical representations using phonetically based OT (e.g. Boersma 1998, Hayes et al. 2004), while simultaneously rejecting the functionalism of much of the research on phonetically based OT in favor of diachronic explanations for 'naturalness' (e.g. Hale and Reiss 2000, Blevins 2004). Thus synchronically, frequency effects are indeed arbitrary, just as lexical effects should be.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1