Pater (2016): Universal Grammar with Weighted Constraints

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Pater, Joe. To appear 2016. Universal Grammar with Weighted Constraints. In John McCarthy and Joe Pater, eds. Harmonic Grammar and Harmonic Serialism. London: Equinox Press. pp. 1-46.

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Abstract. This chapter presents an extensive examination of the typological predictions of weighted constraints, and concludes that they hold considerable promise for typological modeling. Weighted constraints are often held to be unsuitable for the modeling of phonological typology, in that they overgenerate relative to the ranked constraints of Optimality Theory.  In more cases than previously imagined, weighted constraints generate the same typology as ranked ones. Where weighted constraints do have greater power, this often allows them to operate with smaller constraint sets, thus potentially creating more restrictive typologies. The genuinely problematic predictions of weighted constraints are often produced in non-local constraint interactions that are also problematic in Optimality Theory. The locality restrictions imposed by Harmonic Serialism often erase differences between ranking and weighting. The paper also provides a tutorial introduction to weighted constraints and a discussion of the relationship of a categorical model of Harmonic Grammar to probabilistic ones.



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