UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 8 (1996)

Constraint ranking, Government Licensing and the fate of final empty nuclei



Government Phonology is a principles-and-parameters approach where principles are inviolable and language-specific facts are expressed by parameters. Some analyses, however, have been proposed which involve a conflict between different principles, resolved on a language-particular basis (cf. Charette 1990, 1992, Cyran 1994). In this paper, using Government Licensing as an example, I propose that such conflicts can be resolved by Optimality Theoretic ranking of the given principles , rather than turning them off in a parametric style. This not only makes the grammar simpler, but it also allows the lower ranked constraints to have an effect in a non- conflict situation. In addition, I propose to get rid of the (controversial) parameter licensing final empty nuclei, and show how this move, apart from other advantages, also simplifies the account of final consonant clusters.

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