, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 103-131
Date: 16 Mar 2007

Optimality, bidirectionality & the evolution of binding phenomena

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Abstract

This paper argues for a frequentist/functionalist account of certain universal patterns of binding phenomena and strategies of reflexive marking. I will claim that the supposed effects of Principles A & B (Chomsky, Linguistic Inquiry 11, 1–46 1980; Reinhart and Reuland, Linguistic Inquiry 24,657–720 1993; et al.) can be treated as epiphenomena which emerge as a result of the complicit pressure of basic economy considerations and statistical asymmetries in language use. The account is spelled out explicitly in a stochastic version of bidirectional Optimality Theory and a novel type of constraint is proposed that enables a grammar to reflect statistical states of affairs in learning data. This approach in turn lends itself to an evolutionary story involving iterated, bidirectional learning.