Labial Harmony in Classical Manchu: an OCP Effect?
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In his study of Tungusic vowel harmony, Li (1996) gives an account of Classical Manchu vowel harmony in terms of Optimality Theory (hereafter OT, Prince & Smolensky 1993), a theoretical framework that has emerged throughout the 1990s as one of the most promising linguistic paradigms for explaining phonological phenomena. In OT, a set of possible output candidates is generated (GEN) from an underlying representation (UR). These candidates are then evaluated (EVAL) against a language-specific hierarchy of violable universal constraints, and that candidate which shows the lowest degree of constraint violation (with respect to both, the constraint ranking and the frequency it violates a certain constraint) is the optimal candidate and thus chosen as the output (i.e. the surface representation, SR). This is summarized in the following scheme:
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