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  1. HaraKiriBlade's Avatar
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      • Korean
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      • South Korea
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    • Join Date: Apr 2005
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    A few questions about OT (Optimality Theory)


    I'm reading the preface of the book Optimality Theory by Rene Kager, and I'm confused as to what it's saying.

    Moreover, OT is surface-based in the sense that well-formedness constraints evaluate surface forms only - no structural conditions are placed on lexical forms. Earlier models had assumed Morpheme Structure Constraints, resulting in the duplication of static and dynamic rules in phonotactics. In contrast, OT entirely abandons the notion of rewrite rule, dissociating 'triggers' and 'repairs'. This serves to explain conspiricies: multiple processes triggered by a single output-oriented goal.
    1. Well-formedness constraints? what are they?

    2. Structural conditions on lexical forms: can you give me some examples?

    3. Duplication of static and dynamic rules in phonotactics: what 'rules' is the book talking about? the first thing that came to my mind was 'reduplication' in morphology, but I don't think that's what 'rules' are referring to.

    4. Rewrite rules: as in, how deep structure gets 'rewritten' to the surface form after going through various morphophonemic rules? things like the plural -z becomes voiceless after the voiceless consonants?

    5. Conspiricies: does it mean there's something peculiar and perhaps strange about "multiple processes triggered by a single output-oriented goal" and that OT provides the solution to that?

    Any insights you can provide with I would very much appreciate.

    - HKB

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 13

    Re: A few questions about OT (Optimality Theory)

    I have just skimmed the word of OT and I know there is a common question that every such so called theory didn’t think about. That is the span of life. There are so many theories they think they are perfect (like Esperanto and Ido) but it is very easy to point out that they think the life of every body could be as long as they well. Without regard the life is limited no theory can be achieved.
    Think about the following fact you may design a language by yourself.
    Thinking process is like a process of speaking in mind. If in parallel speak, your language can send more information than other language, then your thinking speed would be faster than other language. I regard thinking speed or information sending and receiving speed is very important thing during a life. If decide how many information that you have enjoyed during a life gap. All the information technique is improving it. Yet if you speak a language that sending and receiving information very slow, this language could not survival long. The best example is the computer language. It has only two signals; we say that he can only utter two sounds 1 and 0. Just think about, the English has at least 400 different sounds. Suppose in the world, we just have 400 things to be expressed, then the English could be able to use each sounds to represent each things. While a two sound speaker have no such right. He has to use nine sounds as 011100101to express the same meaning of one sound that English uttered. That means to say, the two sounds’ speaker use nine times to do the same thing as English speaker spend one time. So the ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ is not the oral movement but the information’s transmitting. My principle is that to find a language that enable the people of the world to enjoy the maximum information during their individual life.

  2. HaraKiriBlade's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea

    • Join Date: Apr 2005
    • Posts: 449

    Re: A few questions about OT (Optimality Theory)

    A few things:

    1. OT (Optimality Theory) is not a language. It is a theory that says there are universal constraints that govern all languages but that each language assign priorities to those constraints differently, which is why our languages are so diverse and different.

    2. I know the optimality theory is not perfect. It just happens to be what I'm studying in my phonology class. I do think the theory is well-built, it's just that some of its rather insignificant tenets are a bit too extreme (GEN, for example)

    3. I'm not trying to create a new language, nor do I think there is a need for it. I think the existing languages serve us quite well.

    4. The number of phones (sounds) used in a language, in my opinion, does not have much to do with the amount of information processed during a person's life. Languages go extinct mostly because another language becomes the dominant language of the society, not because they are any less efficient in information processing than other languages.

    5. Not all information processed in the brain involves language.

    6. As much as I appreciate your input, I think it was a bit off-topic.

    - HKB

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