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From:And Rosta <a.rosta@...>
Date:Sunday, November 19, 2000, 15:12
> And Rosta wrote: > > >If this is to be a distinctively OT analysis then you need to show that > >the constraints conflict and so must be ranked. > > Indeed. If you look back at my example, if you rank "stay" above the other > two, you would get sentences that are WH-in-situ and have no Subject-Aux > Inversion: "Mary saw who?" > > >For the particular example you give, it's hard to see whether conflicting > >constraints are called for. I have a competing analysis without conflicts, > >but conceivably you could come up with an analysis with fewer but > >conflicting constraints and so arguably superior. > > But the three constraints > >you give are problematic. > > I agree. But as you state, this examples was constructed for expository > purposes. > > > "Stay" seems pointless, > > As a matter of fact, it is a common constraint in OT analyses. OT -- like > Minimalism, TAG, CG, TG, etc -- assumes that sentences are heirarchical, > and represent the structure with trees. Movement from node to node is in > fact what "Stay" attempts to prevent -- very similar to the Minimalist > principle of Economy ("Don't move unless it is absolutely required").
So "Stay" could be renamed something like "*chain" -- "exclude any structure that contains positions coindexed with a trace"? Fair enough.
> > because 'Gen' should > >generate all forms willynilly, and random or any other rearrangements > >should simply not be part of the model. > > That depends on your theory of "Gen". Prince and Smolensky actually provide > two different models. One - the one nearly everybody uses - generates all > possible forms, then selects the most "optimal" form based on the > constraints. The other only generates the forms relevant for the next > constraint on the list. After that constraint has made a decision, the > optimal candidate is used as the base form for generating the next set to > be judged from. McCarthy is the only person I know of to use such a model > in Phonology (but I'm not a phonologist, so I don't know the literature). > Under this second theory of Gen, you do not get the forms generated > "willynilly". Indeed, McCarthy has suggested that Phonology should follow > Syntax in using such a Gen. (That was at the West Coast Conference of > Formal Linguistics, 2000).
I have a gut preference for the former, more declarative Gen. But I'd be interested to see the arguments pro & con.
> > It's not clear from your exposition > >why Q-head requires inversion, so I can't judge Q-head. > > Absolutely. Q-head simply states that there must be an element in the CP to > mark the question. It would also be possible to insert a question marker > like Chinese, move the wh-pronoun there, or something else. I avoided those > issues for simplicity. > > There are a couple approaches you could take to this. One would be to say > that the Q-head requires a tensed element in it. Thus, inversion of the > tensed material would be necessary. If you rank such a constraint above > "Stay", then Inversion results. If you rank it below "Stay", then you would > get a question marker like Chinese. This, in fact, could be part of a much > broader constraint that requires "heads" to raise as high as they can in > their phrase. Their upward movement would only be halted by a constraint > that does not allow further movement. English verbs cannot cross the > subject, but French verbs can. That would a difference in constraint ranking. > > > Finally, Wh-initial > >is all well and good, but it wrongly excludes quizshow questions ("Mary > >will see who?"). > > Not at all. We can introduce another constraint that requires arguments to > occur in their cannonical position in certain contexts like echo questions > and such. You rank that constraint above Wh-initial, and the facts fall > out. But in neutral contexts, this new constraint is dormant and fronting > applies.
It seems to me to be an inescapable weakness of both OT and Minimalism that they have such difficulties dealing with 'free variant' structures -- structures that are different but are the same at interpretation at the conceptual interface. Wh-questions with and without fronting would be such an example, for although echo questions are not interpretationally equivalent to wh-fronted questions, quizshow questions are.
> >I must in fairness concede that this example was chosen as an exposition > >of what OT syntax is like rather than as an exemplar of analysis where OT > >does better than other theories, but on the other hand the same could be > >said of 98% of the OT analyses I've seen. > > Yes. I'm not a firm proponant of OT Syntax. I jokingly objected to Dirk's > claim that OT is theory of Phonology, and somebody (sorry, don't remember > who) asked to see OT syntax. Viola. Here we are. Basically, I find OT and > Minimalism to alternative characterizations of the exact same ideas and > principles.
Ah -- I'd been wondering who at UCLA is an OT syntactician. I know Jane Grimshaw has been doing OT syntax, and Joan Bresnan has been using it in her work.
> >Could you give an example of an analysis does better than other theories? > > Without going into details, a further application to WH-questions. Note the > behavior of wh-subjects: > > Who saw Mary? > > No inversion (or at least not visible). No Do-Support. This is an > embarrasment to Generative Theories -- all the theories for it in GB and > Minimalism are weak, and everybody knows it. They just don't talk about it. > But, under the OT analysis I just sketched (ie, wh-elements raise to the > front, verbs raise as high as they can without crossing the subject), this > is actually predicted. The subject appears in front of the Q-head like > wh-pronouns must in neutral questions. The verb may then safely be in the > Q-head without violating the ban on crossing (or raising above) the > subject. Thus, Do-Support is not needed. Recall that verbs also cannot > raise above negation, thus we expect that in a negative question with a > wh-subject, Do-Support should return. In fact, it does: "Who didn't see Mary?"
OK, I get it. But in fact the implication that "OT syntax" is an OT-ization of some other theory, so you get "OT Minimalism" and "OT LFG", etc. etc., seems much more on the mark to me, and makes more sense.
> >Just point me to someone's article if that's easier. > > You could always search the Rutgers Optimality Archive. There isn't much on > Syntax in there. > > >BTW, I'm assuming that you're keen to engage in 'lively debate'. But if I'm > >coming across as bullying or obstreporous, just let me know & the thread > >will immediately be aborted. > > Not at all. I would just like to point out that I am not an OT > syntactician. I am an amateur dabbler, who spends most of his time split > between Minimalism (which I am very dissatisfied with) and Field Work > (which I love).
Interesting. It seems to be true of all the artlangers here that at heart they are fieldworkers, even when, like Matt & Dirk, they're also theoreticians. I've never had any desire to do fieldwork, but then I'm more loglanger than artlanger.
> But I have professors who hate OT, and fail to see that it is not > fundamentally different from their own pet theories. That irritates > me sometimes. I have a friend who wanted to write her thesis in OT, > and all her professors refused to advise her until she switched back to > Minimalism/Antisymmetry.
Bloody hell. That's outrageous. Was she set on not switching institutions?
> > > For all of you who may have been brainwashed into believing that > Minimalism > > > is the only way to go, > > > >= 0% of the list membership, as far as I can see. > > I know there are people on the list who are learning GB style theories. I > was mainly addressing that comment to them. > > > Matt is the only high- > >profile Chomskyan here, and he's not a heavyduty Minimalist. > > Matt crosses Minimalism with Antisymmetry, and does some very interesting > work based on that. But it is true that he seems to entertain functionalist > ideas often than many (most?) Chomskyans. He is very enlightening to talk > to about theoretical matters. > > > > And to be fair, for all of you who have been brainwashed into believing > > > that Minimalism is the Anti-Christ, Minimalism is one of three theories of > > > syntax that have been shown to be learnable, the other two being Tree > > > Ajoining Grammar and Categorial Grammar. The jury is still out on OT, and > > > all the rest (Transformational Grammar, Lexical Function Grammar, HPSG, > > > Role and Reference Grammar, etc) have been proved to be unlearnable. > > > Chomsky was not happy to hear that about his theory. :-) > > > >Since so little is known about learnability from a psychological perspective, > >I assume this argument must be about learnability from a logicomathematical > >perspective? > > Yes, it is. > > >I'd like -- nay love -- to see the evidence for the claims you give. Can > >you give the reference? > > All I can say is that the work has been done by people such as Ed Stabler > of UCLA and several of his students, such as Henk Harkeman. People are > doing similar work at Rutgers, IIRC. I should be able to be more specific > sometime during the next quarter, when I plan to take Ed's class on the topic.
I'll remain interested if you share it with us then.
> >BTW, I remember reading a paper by Shalom Lappin & David Johnson about why > >*Minimalism* (unlike certain other theories -- I forget which, but possibly > >including GB and HPSG) was pyschologically unviable. I forget the details, > >but the essence was that economy could be computed only over entire > >derivations, > >so to compute the most economical derivation you have to compute every > >derivation. I seem to recall that Minimalism has since taken steps to fix > >that problem, though. > > Currently, most people usually compute Economy at each step during the > derivation, rather than over the entire thing. But that isn't the only area > of Minimalism that is psychologically unviable. > > For instance, the production of most biclausal structures takes longer to > pronounce than the "language buffer" in our brains can handle. That is, our > minds can only see so far ahead of what we are actually saying. The > distance has been measured (according to Bruce Hayes, but I don't remember > the exact length or who did the work). Some agglutinative/polysynthetic > languages can form words that take longer to pronounce than the buffer can > handle. (The evidence comes from agglutinative languages that determine > stress from the end of the word, and checking to see how long a word can be > formed before stress cannot be accurately computed anymore.) Minimalism > requires that the entire sentence be constructed before pronunciation > occurs. But how is that possible, if the sentence is longer than the buffer > has space for? I can't believe that a multi-clausal structure can be > constructed, stored, then pronounced, when it is not even possible to > compute the stress pattern of a single super-long word.
The most charitable answer I can give here is that Minimalism is not to the slightest degree a model of processing, except in the metaphors it uses to describe itself; it is a model only of competence. The obvious riposte to this is, How can an ostentatiously mentalistic model of competence ignore processing, given that a halfway decent model of processing could quite possibily handle the rest of competence?
> We have to have a theory that allows the formation of the sentence as it is > being pronounced. No theory of syntax or grammar that I know of is capable > of this yet. But we will by the time I finish my dissertation in five years > or so. :-) (That's only a half joke. I am working in that direction during > my spare time. I occasionally discuss portions of my developing theory with > various people -- professors and fellow grad students--, but nobody has > heard anything close to the whole story. The most damning criticism I've > been given so far is that my ideas are symmetrical to Minimalism.)
I'm surprised at your claim. LFG was founded as a psychologically more viable alternative to TG. I don't see the processing problems in HPSG or Categorial or Word Grammar (the theory my PhD grew out of). I know of other, processing-driven formalist models of syntax, too. --And.