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By Gilbert Thomas


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Put the other Rules v. Constraints 33 way, is ordering so repugnant that massive rule complication is actually preferable? Why is no-ordering intrinsically superior to simplicity (or the converse)? How much complication is needed to avoid derivational steps and ordering? Simplicity of the metatheory itself is also a consideration in theory selection. Is there validity in the Occam’s Razor argument that constraints-only is conceptually simpler than rules plus constraints? Is that simplicity negated by the fact that OT also requires adding Gen and Eval algorithms to grammar?

The frequency of consonantal homorganicity conditions on rules and the rarity of analogous laryngeal identity conditions cannot be formally explained just on the basis of formal properties of rules. From OCP investigations, we know that these tendencies cannot be hard universals – there is no absolute requirement that nasals must always agree in place with the following consonant. The idea of a “parameter” is well suited to resolve recurrency with violability. A parameter is a fixed choice given by UG, which narrows the degree of freedom to less than that given by free combination of symbols, but still provides a degree of freedom greater than zero.

The fundamental work in parametric rule theory is Archangeli and Pulleyblank (1994), which articulates a general parametric theory of rules, Grounded Phonology, combining absolute conditions and universal choices for rule formulation. See also Davis (1995) for an application of the theory to rule statement in Palestinian Arabic. The concept of a constraint or condition is strong, according to Archangeli and Pulleyblank (1994: 14): “Wellformedness encodes the requirement that no representation may be allowed, even temporarily, to violate conditions,” thus (p.

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