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105. Tier Segregation

Adam Ussishkin

Subject Theoretical Linguistics » Phonology

Key-Topics formal grammars

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184236.2011.00107.x


At or near the top of the job description of the phonologist is the goal of finding, describing, and explaining patterns of behavior among features, sounds, and other phonological elements in languages of the world. For theories stemming from the generative approach that began most conspicuously with Chomsky and Halle (1968 , henceforth SPE ), the most highly valued explanations are rooted in Universal Grammar (UG). SPE -based phonology centered on alternations in phonological patterns, and one of its primary contributions to linguistic theory was to shift the burden of the explanatory basis for such patterns away from the lexicon and onto the grammar (the hypothesized computational system responsible for the relationship and mapping between the hypothesized lexical representations and observed surface forms). Therefore, all evidence for such impoverishment of lexical representations is indirect evidence adduced from patterns and alternations observed on the surface. The cost of reliance on such indirect evidence was nonetheless thought by generative phonologists to be outweighed by the explanatory benefit that resulted from the ability to pare down lexical representations and concomitantly endow the grammar with a rich array of rules (or constraints, depending on one's theoretical commitment) that provided structure necessary for the mapping from underlying to surface form. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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