AbstractThis work develops a conception of grammar in which optimality with respect to a set of constraints defines well-formedness. The argument begins with a brief assessment of the promise of optimization-based approaches, focusing on issues of explanation from principle. The general lay-out of Optimality Theory is sketched, including the core notions of ranking & violability and the emphasis on universality in the constraint set.Part I shows how the ideas play out over a variety of phenomena and generalization patterns. The key distinction between Markedness and Faithfulness constraints is introduced. The analytical focus is on empirical phenomena ranging from epenthesis to infixation to a variety of sometimes-complex interactions between prominence, syllabification, stress, and word form. Part I concludes with a formal presentation of the theory.Part II investigates the theory of syllable structure. It begins with a study of the basic Jakobson typology and moves on to present an analysis of aspects of the Lardil phonological system which incorporates the results of the basic theory. The section concludes with a detailed exploration of a generalized theory based on multipolar scales of sonority-to-syllable-position affinity.Part III examines the derivation of universal and language particular inventories, provides discussion of foundational issues, and concludes with analysis of the relation between Optimality Theory and theories using a notion of repair.
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