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OT Semantics and Control

Magazine article
Authors Benjamin Lyngfelt
Published in Rutgers Optimality Archive
Volume 411
Publication year 2000
Published at Department of Swedish
Language en
Subject categories Linguistics, Swedish language


Control, the interpretation of the implicit subject of a non-finite clause, seems to depend on interaction between syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic principles. This suggests that an OT framework, which is based on the idea of constraint interaction, should be particularly suited to handle the problem. The present paper integrates configurational, lexical, and pragmatic factors in an OT analysis of control in Swedish. This approach enables the analysis to cover a broader range of control phenomena than can be accounted for from a more uniformly syntactic or semantic perspective. Since the study of control concerns syntax and semantics both, it may provide interesting insights concerning the relation between the two perspectives. Unlike most contemporary theories of grammar, the OT architecture easily lends itself to treating production and interpretation separately. This makes control, as a matter of interpretation, a separate issue from the distribution of controllable elements. By distinguishing these processes - and thereby their inputs - with respect to control, some interesting consequences for OT syntax and OT semantics in general may be revealed. In this paper, it is shown that a fully inflected input to OT syntax is not very well suited to treat the distribution of non-finite clauses (and, consequently, control phenomena). It is also proposed that syntactic structure should not be regarded as part of the input to OT semantics.

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