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Re: stress

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Monday, February 21, 2005, 23:19
From:    "David J. Peterson" <dedalvs@...>
> #1 wrote: > > I'm now trying to find a good way to create the stress for my > > conlang. But I'd want it to be natural AND regular > > Maybe Tom Wier can help me out on the details, but in my opinion, > the one and only thing optimality theory (OT) is good for is creating > regular, interesting stress systems.
I'd say this is somewhat of an exaggeration. Basically, from the perspective of classical generative phonology of the late 1960s and 70s, when you have a conspiracy of rules operating across the lexicon, you don't have many tools at your disposal to work with. That's why in the late 70s and and 80s, people started to introduce constraints on rule ontogeny. Thus, although a language might have four or five completely different repair strategies for achieving an optimal syllable structure, if you have a constraint in the grammar, then, the story goes, you're capturing the generalization in some sort of formal device. The problem was that it wasn't obvious how constraints themselves came about (aside from purely functional reasons). The real break of OT away from this tradition is in getting rid of rule formalisms entirely: you simply have a constraint hierarchy and a GEN function that map the input to and from the output through potential output candidates.
> [Note: I don't mean that Tom should back > me up on my opinion, but that I'm far removed from OT, and certainly > don't want to look at it again, so what I'm about to explain might not > be right.]
Well... I don't like OT much either, but for separate reasons. Namely: even if you can reduce the candidate set to N^2 candidates (where N is the number of constraints), as has recently been proven, there's no reason at all to assume that this has some sort of psychological reality. That is, if you take the psychological-reality predictions of particular theories seriously, it just won't work, even as a kind of algorithm whose output goes immediately into some kind of memory storage system.
> According to OT, all stress systems are regular. If there's what > looks like an irregularity in the language, it should fall out > from ranked constraints, even if there's only one exception.
This is the ideal, yes, but I wouldn't say that most prosodic phonologists think that you can eliminate underlying specification of stress from all languages. This is particularly problematic for stress-systems that arise from tonal systems, as in some Bantu languages; I would think that tones are actually underlyingly specified in most tonal languages. There is at least one dissertation I can think of off the top of my head that deals with this issue: John Alderete's, entitled _Morphologically Governed Accent in Optimality Theory_, which mostly concerns Cupeno (Uto-Aztecan), but also some Japanese and Russian data. (For all who are interested, they will be able to find that dissertation on the Rutgers Optimality Archive. If they have problems, I can upload it to my website for downloading.) Anyways, otherwise it was a pretty good synopsis of how OT views the world. ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637


David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>Psychological Reality of Linguistic Theories (was Re: stress)