Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: what is emergence of the unmarked
Question: Hello,
I was at a dinner party a few days ago and someone made
a joke with the emergence of the unmarked and everyone
laughed but as I am not a linguist, I didn't understand. I
tried to look it up on-line (on sites like Wikipedia) but it
was still over my head. Will you help me please?

Thank you,
Becca Baker

Reply: "Unmarked" in some contexts means "default" or expected. Unmarked items are
frequent within one language and frequent across the world's languages; An unmarked
5-vowel system would be i e a o u. A marked vowel system might be æ a ö,u, ū. IN
Optimality Theory surface forms (what's actually pronounced) are derived via a
competition among constraints. It is a tenet of OT that the competition among
constraints results in a form that is relatively unmarked.

Did anyone laugh at the joke?
Reply From: Susan D Fischer      click here to access email
Date: 26-Aug-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: what is emergence of the unmarked    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (26-Aug-2013)
  2. Re: what is emergence of the unmarked    Mike Hammond     (26-Aug-2013)
  3. Re: what is emergence of the unmarked    Marilyn N Silva     (26-Aug-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions