Published by CSLI Publications, Stanford, 2006.
ISBN (Paperback): 1575865149
ISBN (Cloth): 1575865130
Starting with an introduction of the basic concepts of Optimality Theory and an application of these concepts to syntactic phenomena, the book shows how these concepts can be applied to the domain of interpretation to solve a number of well-known problems in semantics and pragmatics, in particular with respect to a strictly compositional approach to interpretation. A proper treatment of interpretation involves taking into account both the perspective of the hearer and the perspective of the speaker. This is done by adopting a bidirectional Optimality Theoretic approach to interpretation. The syntactic requirement of recoverability on deletion as well as a weakened version of the semantic principle of compositionality are shown to automatically follow from this bidirectional approach. Bidirectional Optimality Theory can be characterized in game-theoretical terms. Therefore, the framework has a strong formal background. Nevertheless, pragmatic concepts such as Grice's conversational maxims can be reinterpreted quite straightforwardly within this framework. Because a bidirectional perspective on optimization requires a different view on learning, an entire chapter is devoted to this issue. Historically, Optimality Theory is rooted in connectionism, which does not assume a strict distinction between representation and processing. In the final chapter of the book, therefore, connections are explored between bidirectional Optimality Theory and connectionist computation and between bidirectional Optimality Theory and language processing.
The book presents ideas that are of importance to anyone interested in current developments in semantics in particular and current developments in linguistic theory in general. The book is intended for advanced undergraduates, graduates, and researchers in linguistics and cognitive science. Only a basic knowledge of linguistics is required.