According to Diana Archangeli (1997) there is a universal set of constraints (CON) that is part of our innate knowledge of language. These constraints are used in Optimality Theory, such as NOCODA: 'syllables end with a vowel'.

Is there a formal list of such constraints, or are there too many to list/not enough information about them?

  • 3
    The Universal Set of Constraints is on a par with the Choir Invisible; you can believe in it, but you can't ever see it while you're alive. There are far too many candidates, and no consensus at all on what there is to be constrained, how it is to be constrained, and what to do about exceptions and counterexamples. As Jim McCawley used to put it, "When you hear a linguist use the word theory, you should put your hand on your wallet."
    – jlawler
    Apr 22, 2013 at 16:45
  • I'm more or less in agreement with @jlawler. Archangeli is a fine linguist, though she has a bit of a bombastic, MIT-style rhetorical manner. See more recent work of hers on "emergent grammar," and you may be persuaded that she would no longer fully endorse this statement.
    – user483
    Apr 22, 2013 at 23:28
  • To both previous comments: Hallelujah! Apr 22, 2013 at 23:53


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.