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Title:Direct Optimality Theory: Representation as Constraint Violation
Authors:Chris Golston
Abstract: Direct Optimality Theory: Representation as Constraint Violation


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Chris Golston

Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet Duesseldorf

This paper argues for a model of morphology and phonology, Direct

Optimality Theory, in which the phonological form of words is

represented directly by constraint violations rather than by strings

of segments. I propose a restructuring of Optimality Theory (Prince &

Smolensky 1993) in which two of the five elements of the theory ('UR'

and 'SR') are eliminated and the role of a third ('GEN') is reduced;

this is done without adding any machinery to the model or reducing its

ability to capture significant generalizations. The argument runs as

follows: (i) underlying representations are syllabified, (ii) they are

relatively ill-formed, (iii) so they can be represented directly in

terms of constraint violations. Step (i) brings to its logical

conclusion the incorporation of prosody into generative phonology

begun in the 1970s and 1980s: prosody is relevant at all phonological

levels of description. As will become clear, representation as

constraint violation is possible only in a theory of grammar that

allows violable constraints. Hence Direct OT.

The paper is organized in the following way. Section 1 provides

the necessary background to the discussion and an overview of the model and

the assumptions it relies on. Section 2 argues that underlying

representation includes prosodic information including syllable structure.

Section 3 shows in detail how underlying representation can be reduced to

constraint violation and section 4 does the same for surface representation

and for alternation. Section 5 offers novel solutions for subtractive

morphology, affixation and templatic morphology in terms of the theory.

Section 6 presents some striking evidence for the theory from speech error

patterns. Section 7 compares Direct Optimality theory to some recently

proposed alternatives to lexical representation (Hammond 1995, Neef 1995,

Russell 1995). The final section offers a short conclusion.

Chris Golston

Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft


Universitaetsstrasse 1

40225 Duesseldorf


Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1