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On Fri, 10 Nov 2000 08:37:33 -0700, dirk elzinga
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>On Thu, 9 Nov 2000, Nik Taylor wrote:
>
>> dirk elzinga wrote:
>> > When I say that either [p] or [b] could be selected as the phoneme,
>> > what I mean is that the choice of [p] or [b] isn't forced by the
>> > theory; the theory can allow either. It's up to you whether you
>> > consider this to be a failure or fortunate result. One the one hand,
>> > it offers a potential explanation for sound change: some speakers
>> > "phonemicize" [p], others [b]. Whichever group gains linguistic
>> > dominance gets to "determine" the next generation's grammar. Under a
>> > strict phonemicist position, this explanation for sound change is not
>> > available, since one or the other *must* must be chosen.
>>
>> I don't understand the significance of this.  How is this different from
>> phonemes?  You're still considering [p] and [b] to represent the same
>> underlying form, whether it's called /p/ or /b/ (or even /F/ or /B/) is
>> more or less arbitrary.  Isn't the underlying form exactly what a
>> phoneme *is*?
>
>The significance lies in what the theory forces you to posit as the
>phoneme. Ideally, there should be *one* possible phonemic solution. In
>a structuralist framework, that solution for Shoshoni is probably /p/.
>My point is that OT doesn't force a single solution in this case
>since given the phonotactic regularities observable in the speech
>stream, more than one solution exists. If more than one solution is
>possible, which one is "true"? You can't tell, and therefore the idea
>of the phoneme -- the *one* possible solution -- is severly weakened.

Uh, excuse me, but what I understand phonemes to be is along the lines of
what you say in the *following* paragraph, *not* the *preceding* one.

>In OT, constraints only hold on the surface forms; constraints are not
>allowed to operate on the underlying forms. If nothing may be excluded
>from underlying forms, then it is possible to have underlying forms
>which are fully specified, radically underspecified, or anything in
>between. When I posit /b/ in underlying form (or /p/ or /B/ or /F/),
>it is not "code" for the underspecified representation [+labial,
>-nasal]; it really is /b/ (or /p/ or /B/ or /F/) in all of its fully
>specified glory. This principle (the freedom of underlying
>representation) is referred to in the OT literature as "Richness of
>the Base". However, it has received surprisingly little attention,
>partly because it is radical break from traditional phonemic analysis.
>It *is* a tough pill to swallow, but if you take the OT idea seriously
>that phonotactic constraints should only hold on the surface, Richness
>of the Base is the inevitable outcome.
>
>Dirk
>

Jeff