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8 - Intonation in Optimality Theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2010

Carlos Gussenhoven
Affiliation:
Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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Summary

Introduction

After the syntactic structures that are needed to express a linguistic message have been assembled, words are selected to ‘fill’ them. Phonologically, these words come as lexical representations and, depending on the language, may include accents or tones. Prosodic constituents will be constructed on the basis of the morpho-syntactic structure, including the information structure, in simultaneous agreement with phonological conditions on size. After the addition of any postlexical tones, adjustments may be made, and the resulting surface representation is delivered to the phonetic implementation (see also section 4.3.1). Optimality Theory (OT) is a grammatical model that aims to explain the relation between the underlying forms (the input) and the surface representation (the output) by assuming that the latter optimally satisfies a ranked series of constraints (Prince and Smolensky 1993; McCarthy and Prince 1993; McCarthy and Prince 1995; Kager 1999; McCarthy 2002). The constraints are taken to be universal, so that differences between languages are describable as differences in constraint rankings. Different rankings give different results, because constraints may conflict, and in such cases higher ranking constraints are enforced at the expense of lower ranking ones (constraint violation). This chapter contains a brief explanation of the principles of OT and applies this theory to tonal and phrasal structures.

An OT treatment of tone is given in Yip (2002), which also briefly summarizes earlier work. Because intonational structure displays features that are not obviously found in segmental structures or even in lexical tonal structures, it is worth while to bring intonational data to bear on OT. Thus, in this chapter, an important modification to the conception of tonal alignment is made, following Gussenhoven (1999c, 2000b, 2000a).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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