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LINGUIST List 25.299

Fri Jan 17 2014

Books: Ockham’s Razor in Linguistics: Klausenburger

Editor for this issue: Justin Petro <justinlinguistlist.org>

Date: 17-Jan-2014
From: Ulrich Lueders <lincom.europat-online.de>
Subject: Ockham’s Razor in Linguistics: Klausenburger
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Title: Ockham’s Razor in Linguistics
Subtitle: An Application to Studies in French Phonology over the Last Half Century
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in French Linguistics 10
Published: 2014
Publisher: Lincom GmbH
                http://www.lincom-shop.eu

Book URL: http://www.lincom-shop.eu

Author: Jurgen Klausenburger
Paperback: ISBN: 9783862885329 Pages: 150 Price: Europe EURO 54.80
Abstract:

Ockham’s Razor constitutes a principle of parsimony, which has been used as a guide in the sciences as well as in linguistics. Ockham’s 14th century metaphysics can be used to evaluate parsimony in modern linguistics. In this encounter, one discovers a subtle interplay between the Razor and a lesser known ‘Anti-Razor’. Crucially, the two principles are distinguished by markedness, as the Razor assumes the absence of an entity as unmarked, while the Anti-Razor considers the presence of an entity as unmarked.

These preliminaries supply the backbone for a thorough historical overview of theories on French phonology, done in five stages: (1) structuralism of the 1950’s, (2) generative phonology of the 60’s, (3) concrete / natural phonology of the 70’s, (4) non-linear phonology of the 80’s, and (5) optimality theory of the 90’s. There is an alternating evolution, as (1) is best identified with the Razor, (2) with the Anti-Razor, (3) with the Razor, and (4) and (5) with the Anti-Razor.

At the end, one cannot conclude that the Razor offers a universal metric of parsimony. Rather, Ockham’s Razor constitutes a ‘claim’ of parsimony: It attempts to prevent not to be able to prevent the positing of superfluous entities.

Linguistic Field(s): History of Linguistics
                            Phonology

Subject Language(s): French (fra)

Written In: English (eng)

See this book announcement on our website:
http://linguistlist.org/pubs/books/get-book.cfm?BookID=69233


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