Simplicity in Transformational Phonology

Elliott Sober

in Simplicity

Published in print December 1975 | ISBN: 9780198244073
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680724 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Simplicity in Transformational Phonology

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Chapter 2 tested the theory of simplicity by discerning certain very general policies in our inferential behaviour that seem to be intuitive examples of ‘preferring the simpler alternative’ and showing that the theory mirrors and explicates these intuitions. Thus far, the interest of the theory lies in its showing how seemingly diverse phenomena have a common logical basis. This chapter applies the theory to a slightly different task. Rather than unite disparate details of inferential practice, it shows how the theory makes clear the substance of one particular debate concerning simplicity that has occurred in science. The objective here is depth rather than breadth; that is, to yield insights into a single strain of theorizing. The example chosen is the attempt by Chomsky and Halle to frame a simplicity criterion for the phonological component of a transformational grammar.

Keywords: simplicity theory; phonology; Chomsky; Halle; transformational grammar

Chapter.  12731 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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