Case in Optimality Theory

Helen de Hoop

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199206476
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Case in Optimality Theory

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



In optimality theory, a grammar consists of a set of constraints which are violable and typically conflicting. That these constraints are violable implies that an output of an input-output mapping can never be rejected because it violates certain constraints or too many constraints. When a set of constraints is identified, the possible rankings of these constraints will generate the possible types of languages that the theory predicts. Thus, optimality theory provides a general means for constructing particular grammars from weighting certain constraints, and for generating theoretical typologies of possible languages from the same constraints. The very first application of optimality theory in syntax happened to be on the subject of case. This article explores case in optimality theory and considers the high or low prominence of arguments. It also discusses the concepts of case assignment, uniqueness, faithfulness, and markedness.

Keywords: optimality theory; grammar; syntax; constraints; arguments; prominence; case assignment; uniqueness; faithfulness; markedness

Article.  5097 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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