We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
Segmental Phonology in Optimality Theory (review)

From: Language
Volume 79, Number 4, December 2003
pp. 811-812 | 10.1353/lan.2003.0259

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK NOTICES 811 tantly, L was one of the first to locate parametric variation in functional material, linking both composition operations and variation in the grammar to closed class elements. The preface serves to briefly outline each of L’s proposals and also puts them, quite usefully, into a ‘historical perspective’—not only by tying them in with more recent developments in the field (namely the minimalist program, in whose development L’s dissertation ‘played a major role’, xiv), but also by pointing out that the ideas contained in this book ‘warrant a renewed look by researchers in the field, for they have provocative implications for the treatment of language acquisition and the composition of phrase structure’, independent from (but certainly compatible with) minimalism. The ‘Introduction’ (1–5) provides an overview of the book’s three major themes: (i) ‘closed class elements and finiteness’, (ii) ‘the relation of stages in acquisition to levels of grammatical representation’ (2), and (iii) ‘levels or precedence relations in the grammar’ (4). Ch. 1 is ‘A re-definition of the problem ’ (7–29) of how language acquisition and grammatical research ought to be connected. Chs. 2–4 deal with phrase structure issues: ‘Project-␣, argument -linking, and telegraphic speech’ (31–90) are discussed in Ch. 2; Ch. 3 deals with ‘Adjoin-␣ and relative clauses’ (91–144); and a discussion of ‘Agreement and merger’ (145–82) constitutes Ch. 4. In the final chapter, L turns to ‘The abrogation of DS functions: Dislocated constituents and indexing relations’ (183–258); this part ‘deals with the interaction of indexing functions, control and binding theory , with levels of representation, particularly as it is displayed in the acquisition sequence’ (1). Given the pole position (in both formal approaches to language acquisition and the refining of grammatical theory) that L’s dissertation has held since the late 1980s, this book is a welcome publication, finally making this fine piece of work easily accessible to a wider audience. As far as I know, this is the third volume of the World theses series originally conceived by the now defunct Holland Academic Graphics . One can only hope that John Benjamins either continues publishing the originally selected dissertations or starts a new series along these same lines, something I’m sure many of us would be very happy with. [KLEANTHES K. GROHMANN, University of Cyprus .] Segmental phonology in optimality theory . Ed. by LINDA LOMBARDI. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001. Pp. 300. ISBN 0521790573. $65 (Hb). This is the first collection of a comprehensive body of research articles in which the constraint-based framework of optimality theory (OT) begins to ‘attack the rich range of phenomena found in segmental alternations’ (jacket inset). It contains an introduction and three sections. Section 1 is ‘The content of representations’. The question LINDA LOMBARDI poses in ‘Why place and voice are different’ addresses a ‘too-many-solutions’ problem in OT: why CODA [voice] markedness undergoes neutralization (pig → pik) but not epenthesis or deletion (*pigi, *pi) while CODA PLACE markedness DOES undergo epenthesis and deletion, in addition to debuccalization . The analysis pivots on the fact that [voice] is privative, hence its deletion from a segment is optimal , while PLACE specification is inescapable. One of the repairs to PLACE markedness rests on the proposal that PHARYNGEAL is least marked, a characterization framed, crosslinguistically, more in terms of alternations than inventories. CHERYL ZOLL’s article, ‘Constraints and representations in subsegmental phonology’, unifies the treatment of ‘floating features ’ (e.g. Inor palatalization, which ‘docks’ on the rightmost noncoronal) and latent segments (e.g. the vowel in Yawelmani -m(i) which shows up only with consonant-final stems) through the suggestion that the two differ only in the relative ranking of DEP(Root) (the cost associated with introducing an independent segment) and constraints on syllabification , alignment, and feature-cooccurrence. ROBERT KIRCHNER, in ‘Phonological contrast and articulatory effort’, introduces the notion of minimization of effort (articulatory displacement, constriction) in the explanation of various seemingly unrelated lenition processes (spirantization, flapping, elision, [de]voicing ) in Tu¨mpisa Shoshone. His representational upheaval admits the full range of nondiscrete phonetic detail into phonological representations, with contrast preservation dictating binarity and effort costs imposing additional demands on the articulatory trajectory. The strict...