Cognitive connections between linguistic and musical syntax
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Language and music share empirically validated syntactic similarities that suggest these modalities may have important cognitive connections. These findings challenge the current view of the human language faculty as encapsulated from other cognitive domains. Patel (2008) emphasizes the distinction between the representational knowledge base of a domain (competence) and the syntactic processes that are employed during access and integration of this knowledge, proposing that the processing resources are shared between the two domains while the knowledge bases remain separate. I propose that the shared processing resources for linguistic and musical syntax are characterized predominantly by the constraint evaluation and optimization mechanisms of Optimality Theory. The goal of this endeavor will be to explore the OT character of musical syntax in support of the claim that a unified theory can reflect cognitive overlap in the language and music modalities and to encourage future refinement of this theoretical framework.