Skip to main content
Doing Optimality Theory
  • John J McCarthy

Optimality Theory revolutionized the field of phonology and had a huge impact on linguistics in general when it was first proposed in 1993. In Doing Optimality Theory, one of the key proponents of the theory explains how to do analysis and research using this model. Because the basic premises of OT are markedly different from other linguistic theories, new analytic techniques and new ways of thinking and theorizing are required.

This unique work presents practical, in-depth advice for students in the field in an engaging and accessible way. McCarthy illustrates his advice with specific examples throughout, and summarizes the core concepts of OT so that the book is geared for an audience both novice and advanced. Numerous questions and exercises throughout are designed to give readers an in-depth understanding of the material.

Doing Optimality Theory is an ideal guide through the intricacies of linguistic analysis and research for an audience of both advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and, by example, will lead the way to future developments in the field.

Table of Contents:

1. An Introduction to Optimality Theory; 2. How to Construct an Analysis; 3. How to Write Up an Analysis; 4. Developing New Constraints; 5. Language Typology and Universals; 6. Some Current Research Questions.

Publication Date
Citation Information
John J McCarthy. Doing Optimality Theory. Malden, MA(2008)
Available at: