Uriel Cohen Priva

Information Utility in OT

I am currently writing a paper on predicting weakening processes cross-linguistically, addressing Weinreich, Labov and Herzog’s (1968) actuation problem: why is it that some languages choose one structural change whereas other languages choose other structural changes. In both UK and American English, for instance, there are several /t/-weakening processes, a rather uncommon process cross-linguistically. Likewise, in many different dialects of Arabic /q/ is weakened. I show that the key to solving the actuation problem for weakening processes lies in balancing information utility with effort. In order to do that, I show how modeling OT’s faithfulness using information utility, and markedness using effort does predict the observed distribution of weakening processes. Interested? Check out the latest draft here: Faithfulness as information utility: addressing the actuation problem.