Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Linguistics Program

Committee Chair

Mizuki Miyashita

Commitee Members

Ashby Kinch, Gary Bevington


assimilation, dissimilation, OCP, vowel deletion


University of Montana


The phenomena of verb contraction in the West Saxon dialect of Old English has been described in many grammars of the language. However, most of these use a traditional rule-based analysis of the sound changes which occur. This thesis re-analyzes the data in terms of Optimality Theory (OT), which uses a system of constraint ranking to account for sound changes. The advantage of using OT is that it offers a single ranking to explain sound changes that would require separate rules and ordering in a more traditional analysis. Section 1 introduces the motivation for approaching this data from OT. Section 2 outlines relevant grammatical features of Old English, and the West Saxon dialect in particular. Section 3 applies OT to the data itself. The data is organized according to the final consonant of the verb stem in order to allow a process of analysis that builds a constraint ranking able to account for the changes in all the verbs under consideration, including vowel deletion, assimilation, dissimilation, and simplification of consonant clusters. Section 4 discusses the theoretical contribution of this study and suggests related areas in which the analysis could be further applied.



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