AuthorBourgeois, Thomas Charles.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractInstantiative Phonology presents a model of grammatical organization whose conceptual orientation arises from the Communication System Hypothesis, the notion that natural languages are communication systems and as such have properties predicted by the Mathematical Theory of Communication (Shannon 1948). Following from this general notion is the empirical hypothesis that phonological processes identify the carriers of grammatical information and instantiate the grammatical constituents of a particular language. The thesis concerns itself with evaluating the empirical relevance of this Hypothesis of Instantiation with respect to grammatical systems. Initially, this research develops a learning mechanism with the capacity to learn a fragment of the purely phonologically conditioned rules of American English based solely on their output in a phonetic representation. While this learner demonstrates sufficient capacity to learn the fragment of American English, it cannot learn the details of this fragment if its rules apply in some order other than that supported by attested data. The properties of this learning mechanism are then used to inform the internal organization of the formal aspects of the model. This model emerges with several desirable properties, including a very restrictive interpretation of both phonological rule typology and the extrinsic ordering of phonological rules. Following this exposition, the model is evaluated through a broad investigation of the purely phonologically conditioned rules from a single language, Turkish. This evaluation reveals that the purely phonologically conditioned rules of Turkish make crucial reference to a subset of phonological features with the necessary and sufficient capacity to generate the "distinctive" inventory of the language. Further, these rules refer to the Turkish grammatical constituents syllable, morpheme, and word over a wide range of different phonological contexts, supporting the notion consistent with the Hypothesis of Instantiation that the purely phonologically conditioned rules of a language provide the user with an efficient and reliable parser of that language. This research concludes that the Hypothesis of Instantiation is borne out in language systems.