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Title:A Conspiracy Argument for Optimality Theory: Emakhuwa Dialectology
Authors:Farida Cassimjee, Charles W. Kisseberth
Abstract:A Conspiracy Argument for Optimality Theory: Emakhuwa Dialectology

Farida Cassimjee (Benedict College)


Charles W. Kisseberth (Tel Aviv University)

This paper [to be published in the proceedings of the University of

Pennsylvania Colloquium in Linguistics for 1999] argues that while

the “conspiracy argument” (originally developed in Kisseberth (1970))

clearly supports the Optimality Theory model of phonology, it is not

the case that conspiracies are just an attribute of the synchronic

grammars of a single language. Conspiracy arguments can be replicated

in a variety of phonological domains (acquisition, speech pathology,

language change, dialectology). The present paper examines tonal

phenomena in three dialects of Emakhuwa (a Bantu language spoken in

northern Mozambique and neighboring regions of Tanzania and Malawi)

and argues that rule-based generative phonology fails to capture the

conspiratorial relationships obtaining in these dialects, wheras OT

(in its Optimal Domains Theory implementation) succeeds in

interpreting dialectal relationships as differences in the ranking of

universal constraints.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1