2009 | 45 | 1 | 73-102
Article title

Formal is Natural: Toward an Ecological Phonology

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Naturalism Phonology (NP) has a history of opposition to abstractness, to generative linguistics, to formalist approaches, and differs from these in its strong focus on external rather than distributional, structural evidential domains. But evidence domains are orthogonal to empirical and formal methods, and, like formalist theories such as Optimality Theory (OT), the pedigree of NP includes structuralist and generative phonology. In an analysis which is sympathetic to both NP and OT, this contribution examines the relation between NP and OT, analyses a classic OT case study of syllabification in Tashlhiyt Berber, and presents computational linguistic analyses of this case, as well as of English syllable phonotactics and of tone language tonotactics. The contribution advocates an opening towards these methods, and the adoption of explicit, consistent, precise, complete and sound formal criteria for theories, which enable an exact interpretation in terms of operational models and computational implementations, and practical applications. The general frame of reference is a the Ecological Cycle in theory formation, from clarification of the domain through theory construction, interpretation with a model, evaluation and application in the original evidential domain, with payback to the language community from which the evidence was gained.
Physical description
  • Universität Bielefeld
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