Optimality and diachronic adaptation

  title={Optimality and diachronic adaptation},
  author={Martin Haspelmath},
  journal={Zeitschrift f{\"u}r Sprachwissenschaft},
  pages={180 - 205}
  • M. Haspelmath
  • Published 1999
  • Linguistics
  • Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft
In this programmatic paper, I argue that the universal constraints of Optimality Theory (OT) need to be complemented by a theory of diachronic adaptation. OT constraints are traditionally stipulated as part of Universal Grammar, but this misses the generalization that the grammatical constraints normally correspond to constraints on language use. As in biology, observed adaptive patterns in language can be explained through diachronic evolutionary processes, as the unintended cumulative outcome… 

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