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Title:An Optimality Theoretic Account of Optionality and Variation in Stylistic Fronting
Authors:Jim Wood
Comment:BA Thesis
Abstract:This paper accounts for a phenomenon known as Stylistic Fronting (Maling 1980/1990) within an Optimality-Theoretic (OT) framework (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004). The primary aim of this paper is to extend the notion of Floating Constraints (FCs) (previously proposed in Reynolds 1994 and Nagy & Reynolds 1997) to the domain of OT syntax as conceived by Grimshaw (1997) and others. Floating Constraints has been used to account for intra-speaker language variation without positing several grammars in one speaker by allowing some constraints within a grammar to float within a fixed domain among other 'anchored' constraints. This approach has the advantage of accounting not only accounting for variants but also for the frequency of their appearance. Crucially, a Floating Constraint approach can only work in syntax when the variants are completely optional ways of realizing the same proposition and argument structure. This seems to be the case for Icelandic Stylistic Fronting (see Burton-Roberts & Poole 2006, Holmberg 2000, and Poole 1997), and this thesis argues that an Optimality-Theoretic account, using Floating Constraints, can parsimoniously account for the basic and more problematic properties of Stylistic Fronting along with the frequency with which the relevant constructions appear.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1