This book describes Optimality Theory from the top down, explaining and exploring the central premises of OT and the results that follow from them. Examples are drawn from phonology, morphology, and syntax, but the emphasis throughout is on the theory rather than the examples, on understanding what is special about OT and on equipping readers to apply it, extend it, and critique it in their own areas of interest. The book's coverage extends to work on first- and second-language acquisition, phonetics and functional phonology, computational linguistics, historical linguistics, and sociolinguistics. Chapters conclude with extensive suggestions for further reading, classified by topic, and are supplemented by a massive bibliography (over 800 items).
Introduction: an overview of optimality theory; Part I. Core: 1. Basic architecture; 2. Constraint typology; 3. Modes of interaction; 4. Illustration; Part II. Context: 5. Classic generative phonology; 6. Conspiracies; 7. Representations and constraints on representations; 8. Other constraint theories (TCRS, DP, etc.); Part III. Results: 9. Endogenous constraints; 10. Consequences of markedness/faithfulness interaction; 11. Consequences of constraint violability; 12. Consequences of parallelism; Part IV. Connections: 13. Learnability and acquisition; 14. Parsing; Morphology and the lexicon; 15. Syntax and semantics; 16. Language variation and change; Part V. Issues and prospects: 17. Functionalism; 18. Opacity; 19. Serial OT; 20. Local conjunction; 21. 'Overkill'; 22. Other topics.