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Textbook

Doing Optimality Theory: Applying Theory to Data

ISBN: 978-1-4051-5136-8
328 pages
May 2008, ©2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Doing Optimality Theory: Applying Theory to Data (1405151366) cover image
Optimality Theory revolutionized the field of phonology and had a huge impact on linguistics in general when it was first proposed in 1993. In Doing Optimality Theory, one of the key proponents of the theory explains how to do analysis and research using this model. Because the basic premises of OT are markedly different from other linguistic theories, new analytic techniques and new ways of thinking and theorizing are required.

This unique work presents practical, in-depth advice for students in the field in an engaging and accessible way. McCarthy illustrates his advice with specific examples throughout, and summarizes the core concepts of OT so that the book is geared for an audience both novice and advanced. Numerous questions and exercises throughout are designed to give readers an in-depth understanding of the material.

Doing Optimality Theory is an ideal guide through the intricacies of linguistic analysis and research for an audience of both advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and, by example, will lead the way to future developments in the field.
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Acknowledgments.

Read This First!.

List of Abbreviations.

1. An Introduction to Optimality Theory.

1.1 How OT Began.

1.2 Why Must Constraints Be Violable?.

1.3 The Nature of Constraints in OT.

1.4 Candidate Sets: OT’s Gen Component.

1.5 Candidate Evaluation: OT’s Eval Component.

1.6 Constraint Activity.

1.7 Differences Between Languages.

1.8 The Version of OT Discussed in This Book.

1.9 Suggestions for Further Reading.

2. How to Construct an Analysis.

2.1 Where to Begin.

2.2 How to Rank Constraints.

2.3 Working through an Analysis in Phonology.

2.4 The Limits of Ranking Arguments.

2.5 Candidates in Ranking Arguments.

2.6 Harmonic Bounding.

2.7 Constraints in Ranking Arguments.

2.8 Inputs in Ranking Arguments.

2.9 Working through an Analysis in Syntax.

2.10 Finding and Fixing Problems in an Analysis.

2.11 Constraint Ranking by Algorithm and Computer.

2.12 The Logic of Constraint Ranking and Its Uses.

3. How to Write Up an Analysis.

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 How to Organize a Paper.

3.3 How to Present an OT analysis.

3.4 The Responsibilities of Good Scholarship.

3.5 How to Write Clearly.

3.6 General Advice about Research Topics.

4. Developing New Constraints.

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 When Is It Necessary to Modify Con?.

4.3 How to Discover a New Constraint.

4.4 How to Define a New Constraint.

4.5 Properties of Markedness Constraints.

4.6 Properties of Faithfulness Constraints.

4.7 Justifying Constraints.

4.8 A Classified List of Common Phonological Markedness Constraints.

5. Language Typology and Universals.

5.1 Factorial Typology.

5.2 Languages Universals and How to Explain Them in OT.

5.3 Investigating the Factorial Typology of a Constraint Set.

5.4 Using Factorial Typology to Test New Constraints.

5.5 Factorial Typology When Con Isn’t Fully Known.

5.6 How to Proceed from Typology to Constraints.

6. Some Current Research Questions.

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 How Does a Language Vary?.

6.3 How Is Language Acquired?.

6.4 Does OT Need Derivations?.

6.5 How Is Ungrammaticality Accounted For?.

6.6 Is Faithfulness Enough?.

Afterword.

References.

Constraint Index.

Language Index.

Subject Index

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John J. McCarthy is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His widely cited but unpublished manuscript "Prosodic Morphology I: Constraint Interaction and Satisfaction" (with Alan Prince, 1993) has been an important factor in the dissemination of Optimality Theory.He is also the author of Formal Problems in Semitic Phonology and Morphology (1985), A Thematic Guide to Optimality Theory (2002), and Hidden Generalizations: Phonological Opacity in Optimality Theory (2007), as well as the editor of Optimality Theory in Phonology: A Reader (Blackwell, 2004).
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  • Explains how to do analysis and research using Optimality Theory (OT) - a branch of phonology that has revolutionized the field since its conception in 1993
  • Offers practical, in-depth advice for students and researchers in the field, presented in an engaging way
  • Features numerous examples, questions, and exercises throughout, all helping to illustrate the theory and summarize the core concepts of OT
  • Written by John J. McCarthy, one of the theory’s leading proponents and an instrumental figure in the dissemination and use of OT today
  • An ideal guide through the intricacies of linguistic analysis and research for beginning researchers, and, by example, one which will lead the way to future developments in the field.
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"An intensely practical book, full of concrete problemsolving advice, which should be well-thumbed by those learning and working within OT." (Journal of Linguistics, 2009)

"Built on deep experience in research and teaching, and drawing expertly on recent advances in handling the theory, McCarthy's volume conducts the reader closer than any previous text to the heart of the Optimality Theoretic enterprise. Lucidly grounded in the nuts-and-bolts of analytic technique, the book includes numerous exercises and questions that will stimulate, inspire, and provoke. Along the way the reader will encounter many sharp observations about matters ranging from theory-construction to writing up research results; these alone are worth the price of entry."
Alan Prince, Rutgers University

"This book not only fills a major gap in the books on OT for beginners, but also offers wise advice for more experienced researchers."
Moira Yip, University College London

"There are many introductions to OT as a theory, but none with hands-on training on the nitty-gritty details of how to actually do OT research. McCarthy's book, brimming with thought-provoking questions and problem sets, provides the guidance needed."
Junko Ito, University of California Santa Cruz

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