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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Constraint Interaction in Language Change: Quantity in English and Germanic Add Dissertation
Author: Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Manchester, Department of English and American Studies
Completed in: 1999
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics; Phonology;
Subject Language(s): Spanish
English, Middle
Language Family(ies): West Germanic
Director(s): Christopher McCully

Abstract: This dissertation addresses the questions raised by two opposite types of interaction between phonological processes: opacity and globality. Special consideration is given to their dual nature as synchronic instantiations of UG capabilities and as products of language change. It is argued that, in order to achieve a synthesis, phonological theory must combine constraint ranking with an interleaved organization of the grammar. Opacity is described, in Lightfoot's metaphor, as a 'Rube Goldberg feature of grammars': it is not catered for by specific UG resources, nor is it functionally grounded; rather, it develops contingently through the impact of misacquisition phenomena upon the interface between phonology and the rest of the grammar. Stochastic processes of hypocorrection give rise to surface-true phonological innovations represented at the postlexical level; these may interact opaquely with generalizations operating at higher grammatical levels. As innovations evolve, they tend to percolate upwards in the grammar; Lexicon Optimization drives this life cycle by prompting the restructuring of the input to a phonological level when relevant cues are attenuated in the child's trigger experience. In strictly parallel versions of Optimality Theory, in constrast, opacity is regarded as the province of functionally grounded transderivational correspondence constraints. This approach to opacity is subjected to a comprehensive critique. In particular, the evidence of a process of gemination in West Germanic is shown to contradict the claim that, in interleaved models of grammar, the ranking of markedness constraints is always fixed across levels. West Germanic Gemination also refutes the assumption that sympathy-candidate selectors are confined to the set of IO-faithfulness constraints. In turn, it is suggested that a subset of diachronic global effects involves the parallel interaction of old and innovative constraint rankings within the same phonological level. The implications of this proposal are illustrated with a reanalysis of the Middle English quantity adjustment which dispels the illusion of conspiracy conjured up by previous approaches. Both case studies in quantity change are informed by a reformulation of constraints on moraic faithfulness. This overcomes a number of difficulties incurred by the current statements of Dep-mora and Ident-mora in relation to Weight by Position.