The Holographic Principle: Typological Analysis Using Lower Dimensions

Nazarre Merchant, Martin Krämer


A moderately complex factorial typology may consist of hundreds of languages which can opaquely encode linguistically salient categories and generalizations. We propose in this paper that complex typologies can be decomposed and understood using what we call the holographic principle: a large typology can be projected onto simplified versions of itself which can be completely understood using Property Theory (Alber & Prince 2016). The simplified versions can then be re-incorporated into the original in such a way that the properties of the simple are maintained and provide a framework for analyzing the full system.

In this paper, we demonstrate this using two systems, a basic stringency system (BSS), and a coda stringency system (CSS). We show how a complete analysis of BSS, using Property Theory, provides fundamental insights into the more complicated CSS which BSS is a simplification of. A property analysis is a set of properties that divide the languages of the typology in such a way that each language and its grammar can be identified uniquely by its property values. Such an analysis identifies the crucial rankings among constraints that distinguish all grammars of the typology so that languages that share property values share extensional traits. 


Optimality Theory; Property Analysis

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