Essay about Pragmatics



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College or university of Edinburgh

Diana Archangeli & G. Terence Langendoen (eds. ), Optimality Theory: An Overview. Malden & Oxford: Blackwell, 1997. Pp. xii + 233.




According to the front page, Archangeli & Langendoen's Optimality Theory: An Overview (henceforth A& L) is " the first in a series of volumes of essays that are designed to expose and make clear major exploration areas in linguistic theory and practice”. On the backside cover, we all learn which it provides " the first general introduction to optimality theory — probably the linguistic theory with the 1990s. ” And the Forward states which the intended market is " anyone with an important interest in dialect who desires to understand [Optimality Theory], irrespective of their history in formal linguistic theory itself. ”

In many respects, the book really does indeed fulfill its released goals. So far as we are conscious, Archangeli & Langendoen had been first to promote with an introduction to


though since that time, Kager

(1999) has also came out. The documents themselves are generally lucid and well-edited, and together they carry out an attractive comprehensive, although necessarily superficial, tour of the main landmarks in


Various areas of phonology happen to be covered in three chapters by Archangeli, Hammond and

Pulleyblank; there is a chapter in morphology by Russell; and two chapters on syntax by Pesetsky and Speas. The 6 main works are sandwiched between a handy Forward and a more good and funeste Afterword.

Despite the deserved praise, we have a lot of doubts about the coherence of the pedagogical strategy followed by the quantity. Clearly, OT is not as yet sufficiently mature to provide the theoretical setting for a standard introduction to phonology, on the type of Kenstowicz & Kisseberth (1979); this can be accepted as a positive symptom of the energy of OT as a exploration programme. Even so, A& D does have pretensions to as an introduction not just to


but to phonology and format more generally,

thereby honouring its dedication to all viewers " no matter their history in formal linguistic theory itself. ” Thus, all the six primary essays in A& M open with an ‘introduction to Times ', where X runs from linguistics in toto through distinctive features in phonology to constituent composition and limitations on syntactic movement.

Challenging though you should imagine a generation of linguists reared on an primary diet of



volume could not realistically be used as a first linguistics text for undergraduates, on for least two counts. Though most of the initial material in A& T is excellent as far as it goes, it just


basically comprehensive enough to provide a sensible foundation for doing linguistics. Second, there exists almost a head-on clash between the viewpoints adopted in the two syntax chapters, a conflict that is guaranteed to discompose and befuddle most undergraduate readers. In conclusion, then, the ambitions of A& D to act as an introduction to phonology, morphology and syntax, as well as OT, seem misdirected. Perhaps even more seriously, A& L also offers significant shortcomings as an intro to



is no systematic guidance to further examining in the place. There are not any exercises. And there is no exploration of methodology, of how to set about constructing a great OT examination of a particular phenomenon. Therefore, even if you have managed to select an appropriate group of putatively general constraints, how can you determine their ranking, and what guidelines might you apply to make sure that you have tested them against a reasonable set of candidate varieties?


2 . 1



The first part, entitled Optimality Theory: An Introduction to Linguistics in the nineties and authored by Archangeli, units the field for the rest of the book, introducing in turn (generative) linguistics,


and the formative example of syllable...