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Prosodic phonotactics

Tim D Sherer, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation deals with the possibility of having syllable final consonants, including geminate consonants, and the interaction of such consonants with syllable weight and vowel length, by means of the moraic tier. The goal of this work is to have the range of patterns of consonant occurrence and vowel length follow from simple patterns in simple interactions. A chapter is devoted to making predictions about the phonological patterns possible in the system. These are made through the interaction of simple phonological constraints, with the adoption of Optimality Theory. Since the constraints interact in different ways in different languages, they need not be complicated themselves. Still, they produce the full range of expected patterns. Of special importance is the fact that intersyllabic consonant clusters and geminates are predicted to cross-classify. Two chapters are devoted to more detailed analyses of the languages Finnish, Fula, and Koya. In particular, these languages differ on which types of over-filled or hypercharacterized syllables they permit. Because hypercharacterized syllables are more than full, they are situations where we can gage the limits of syllabic constituency. An adequate approach to syllable theory must predict not only the possibility of the syllable types found in these languages, but the variation in types found between languages. A chapter is devoted to appendix consonants, which are non-moraic non-onset consonants. Here it is proposed that only appendix consonants display the coronal asymmetries that have been described for codas in a variety of languages. Furthermore, discussion of the structural analysis of the appendix consonants is undertaken. The aforementioned phenomena are all underlying. Another matter taken up is the nature of gemination of consonants conditioned by prosodic factors and geminates which arise as a result of concatenation. The language Wiyot, which has no distinctive length, is analyzed using the same basic schema as the languages with distinctive consonant or vowel length. Gemination by concatenation is analyzed by means of Alignment constraints. Finally, this dissertation includes discussion of alternative representations for consonant sequences and geminates.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Sherer, Tim D, "Prosodic phonotactics" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9434532.