Pathological Effects of Local Disjunction

Charlie O'Hara


When working in Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky, 1993/2004; McCarthy & Prince, 1995), a balance must be found when positing constraints between those that are not powerful enough to explain attested forms of opacity, and those that are too powerful and predict problematic and pathological languages. Constraint connectives, which create new constraints whose violations are defined relative to those of two simple constraints, can be a simple and intuitive way to extend the power of OT to capture opacity. Local Conjunction (Smolensky, 1993; Moreton & Smolensky, 2002; Itô & Mester, 2003) is the best known connective, but since its inception considerable restraint has been placed upon it to prevent it from predicting pathological effects (Itô & Mester, 1996; Łubowicz, 2005; Pater, 2009). Yet, as explored in Wolf (2007), Local Conjunction is just one of 16 possible constraint connectives. Along with and, some have posited or, as we do in natural language and logic. I call this connective Local Disjunction.1 Local Disjunction was first posited by Hewitt & Crowhurst (1996), and explored further in later work by Crowhurst & Hewitt (1997); Crowhurst (2011); Downing (2000, 1998). In this paper, I argue that Local Disjunction creates pathological effects, and even restriction like that which we have applied to Local Conjunction cannot save it.


Optimality Theory; Constraint Connectives; Local Disjunction

Full Text:



Beckman, Jill N. (1998). Positional Faithfulness. Ph.D. thesis, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst.

Crowhurst, Megan & Mark Hewitt (1997). Boolean operations and constraint interactions in optimality theory. Ms. University of North Carolina & Brandeis University [ROA-229].

Crowhurst, Megan J. (2011). Constraint Conjunction, Blackwell Publishing, vol. IV of The Blackwell Companion to Phonology, chap. 62.

Downing, Laura J. (1998). On the prosodic misalignment of onsetless syllables. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 16, 1–52.

Downing, Laura J. (2000). Morphological and prosodic constraints on kinande verbal reduplication. Phonology 17, 1–38.

Hewitt, Mark S. & Megan J. Crowhurst (1996). Conjunctive constraints and templates in optimality theory. NELS 26, 101–116.

Itô, Junko & Armin Mester (1996). Rendaku 1: Constraint conjunction and the OCP. Paper presented at the Kobe Phonology Forum.

Itô, Junko & Armin Mester (1998). Markedness and word structure: OCP effects in Japanese. Ms. University of California, Santa Cruz [ROA-255].

Itô, Junko & Armin Mester (2003). Japanese morphophonemics: markedness and word structure. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2006). A faithfulness ranking projected from a perceptibility scale: The case of [+voice] in japanese. Language 82, 536–574.

Łubowicz, Anna (2005). Locality of conjunction. Alderete, John, Chung-hye Han & Alexei Kochetov (eds.), Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, 254–262. [ROA-764].

McCarthy, John J. & Alan Prince (1995). Faithfulness and reduplicative identity. University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers 18, 249–384.

Moreton, Elliott (1999). Non-computable functions in optimality theory. Ms. University of Massachusetts, Amherst [ROA-667].

Moreton, Elliott & Paul Smolensky (2002). Typological consequences of local constraint conjunction. Mikkelsen, L. & C. Potts (eds.), WCCFL 21 Proceedings, Cascadilla Press, Cambridge, MA.

Pater, Joe (2009). Review of Smolensky and Legendre (2006). The Harmonic Mind. Phonology 26, 217–226.

Prince, Alan & Paul Smolensky (1993/2004). Optimality Theory: Constraint Interaction in Generative Grammar. Blackwell, Oxford.

Smolensky, Paul (1993). Harmony, markedness, and phonological activity. Rutgers Optimality Workshop I, New Brunswick, NJ. ROA-87.

Smolensky, Paul (2006). Optimality in Phonology II: Harmonic Completeness, Local Constraint Conjunction and Feature-Domain Markedness, MIT Press, vol. 2: Linguistic and Philosophical Implications, chap. 14, 586–720.

Tesar, Bruce (2014). Output-Driven Phonology: Theory and Learning. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

White, James (2013). Bias in phonological learning: evidence from saltation. Ph.D. thesis, UCLA.

Wolf, Matthew (2007). What constraint connectives should be permitted in OT? University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers in Linguistics 36, 151–179.


Copyright (c) 2016 Charlie O'Hara

License URL: