English Phonology

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Compare the theoretical assumptions between the standard generative phonological theory and the optimality theory?

Both approaches, the generative phonological theory and the optimality theory, focus on examining phonological phenomena on the basis of the underlying and the surface representations of speech sounds. Chomsky and Halle founded the generative phonological approach in late 1950s. In their book Sound Patterns of English (SPE 1968), they presented the notion of the standard ordered rules that deal with the strings of sounds generated by the syntactic constituent of grammar. This theory assumes that sounds are represented and rules are formulated, in other words, the underlying phonological representation is governed by a set of rules, operated in a systematic adjustment, which bring out a surface form through a sequenced procedure. This assumption analyzes a given phonetic representation mainly according to the derivation of the input. The production of an output is derived from the input by applying an ordered sequence of rules, in a certain alteration process. The underlying form (input) results in the surface form (output) through a sequence of rules. input process output

The optimality theory acknowledges the same role of the underlying forms and the surface forms, but in a different realization. Unlike the generative phonological theory, optimality theory operates around the notion of universal constraints. The systematic assumption of this theory states that, the input as an underlying form goes through the generator (Gen) to create a potential number of output candidates. The generator passes the output candidates to the evaluator (Eval) that provides a set of ordered constraints and evaluates the output candidates according to their harmony values. The outcome is the optimal candidate (optimal output) that satisfies the highest ranking constraint. The output as a result of a specifically ordered constraints allows only...
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