Remarks on Optimality Theory and Language Change

  • D. Eric Holt
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 56)


The present chapter frames Optimality-Theoretic approaches to phonological and morphosyntactic change in the context both of theoretical linguistics and of the questions asked in traditional historical linguistics. Previous traditional, standard generative and OT accounts are discussed, including principles of change invoked (e.g., Transparency Principle, Naturalness Condition, Neutral Ground Hypothesis, Synchronic Base Hypothesis); changes to the grammatical component (addition, loss, reordering, inversion of rules; promotion, demotion of constraints); variation (lexical diffusion theory; partial constraint ordering); the relationship between restructuring/reanalysis, child language acquisition, lexicalization and lexicon optimization; and level-ordered grammar (Lexical Phonology and Morphology; stratal OT). The chapter concludes with a summary of the contents and main findings of each of the chapters of the volume.


Phonological and morpho-syntactic change generative grammar ptimality Theory restructuring lexicalization lexicon optimization variation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

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  • D. Eric Holt

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