Publication Date

January 1997

Journal or Book Title

Linguistic Inquiry


Similar phonological processes can be governed by different constraints. Davis (1995) claims that the effect of such process-specific constraints cannot be obtained in Optimality Theory (OT), exemplifying this point with material from harmony in Palestinian Arabic. On the contrary, I show that process-specific constraints are a natural and expected result of constraint ranking, the fundamental idea of OT. Furthermore, OT makes a restrictive prediction, the subset criterion, about coexistent process-specific constraints within a single grammar—a prediction supported by the Palestinian material. Davis also presents evidence that epenthetic segments have featural specifications, claiming that OT says they are featureless. This is incorrect; OT is a model of constraint interaction, not of the representation of epenthetic segments.


Copyright MIT Press.