|Title:||Variability and minimalism: /R/ in a stratal grammar|
|Authors:||Eric Russell Webb|
|Comment:||Manuscript: comments welcome|
|Abstract:||Optimality Theory (OT, Prince & Smolensky 1993) provides that the source of language specificity is a ranking of violable constraints and denies that linguistic idiosyncrasies may be attributed to the lexicon according to the Richness of the Base (ROTB). Segments like the French dorsal /R/ are particularly interesting, given apparent featural minimalism and sensitivity to phonetically-based constraints (Tranel 1987: 141-143, Russell Webb 2004, in press & forthcoming). The present work reexamines this segment, questioning base richness, the nature of input and the learning of phonological representations. A stratal grammatical model is proposed, incorporating a restrictive interpretation of ROTB, recast as a theoretical imperative operating at a declarative grammatical stratum.
The paper proceeds as follows. Preliminary sections review data relevant to French /R/, ROTB and the status of input in OT. A third section reviews recent work advocating emergent features, calling into question the nature of phonological inputs and the learning of underlying representations (UR) and licensing implications. A fourth section articulates the proposed model, accounting for French /R/ in learning, declarative and productive sub-modules. A final section provides synthesis and draws preliminary conclusions.