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    Controversy Surrounding Optimality Theory

    Number of Pages: 12


    Summary of the research paper:

    In twelve pages this research paper examines the linguistic theory known as OT in a consideration of the problems and controversy surrounding it. Seven sources are cited in the bibliography.

    Name of Research Paper File: D0_khot.rtf

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    the rule-based serial phonological model. However, while OT has much to recommend it, some linguists feel that OT does not provide a better model of phonology than previous models. These  critics point to the fact that OT "does not provide us with a substantive theory of grammar right away, not does it automatically lead to a unified view of set-up  syntax" (Dekker, et al, 2000, p. 19). The follow discussion will examine the parameters of OT, what it is and its significance, as well as at problem areas of OT,  such as opacity and ineffability. Ideally, a phonological model should encompass the entirety of this field, providing a logical template for exploring all eventualities. While OT helps in facilitating  such a model, as the following discussion will illustrate, it is not perfect. Background Information The central hypothesis that drives modern linguistic research is due to the work  of Noam Chomsky, who posited in the 1960s that human beings in an innate ability to learn language (Archangeli, 1997). However, Chomsky also proposed that there limits on what sounds  or strings of sounds can constitute a human language. The universal "properties of the worlds languages result from inflexibility in this innate language capacity" (Archangeli, 1997, p. 2). Linguists employ  the term "universal grammar to refer to the innate language knowledge that is inherent in the human brain (Archangeli, 1997). OT is a linguistic model that encompasses both universal and  "language-specific" properties, and how they are expressed (Archangeli, 1997). OT made its public debut at the University of Arizona Phonology Conference  in Tucson in April of 1991, when Alan Prince and Paul Smolensky presented a paper entitled "Optimality" (Archangeli, 1997). While OT has impacted all of linguistics, but, in particular, 

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