Minimizing and optimizing structure in phonology: Evidence from aphasia

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At the phonological level, languages differ with respect to the amount of structural complexity they permit. However, even though a language may permit complex structures (e.g., onset consonant clusters), the grammar still differentiates the complex structures from less marked structures (e.g., singleton onset consonants) which are also permitted in the language. This paper explores the performance of VBR, an aphasic English speaker, whose deficit has affected her grammar by disallowing previously permitted marked forms, and thus minimizing structural complexity. It is shown that her impairment affects a level of phonological processing at which output forms are computed, and her grammar may be captured by an Optimality Theory account that differs minimally from that of an unimpaired English speaker. Through a thorough survey of VBR's performance, it is shown that the phonological processing system is constrained by factors that favor structures with minimal complexity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1380-1395
Number of pages16
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Aphasia
  • Epenthesis
  • Optimal structure
  • Phonology
  • Repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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