LINGUIST List 8.1095

Sat Jul 26 1997

Sum: Heavy Onsets References

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. LAS, Summary: Heavy Onsets References

Message 1: Summary: Heavy Onsets References

Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 11:25:44 -0400
From: LAS <>
Subject: Summary: Heavy Onsets References

Original Query:

Date: Wed, 18 Jun 1997 15:44:55 -0400
From: "LAS" <>
Subject: Admissible Onsets in Russian and other onset-heavy languages

I am interested in obtaining information regarding admissible onset
types in Russian and other languages which allow for heavy
onsets. Information on English is plentiful, but I haven't been able
to locate information on any other languages.

David Harris
Responses in the order in which I received them:
1- Dear David,

Palauan, a West-Austronesian language, is one of many languages that 
allows for heavy onsets . There is a dissertation on "Palauan Phonology
Morphology" by Marie Jo-Ann Flora (University of California, San Diego: 
1974). The examples she gives for initial consonant clusters are the 
following: "tpak", "kpokp", "ptuch", "psik", "spadel", "pkul", "skores",
 ksid", "tmat", "kmal", "smilek", "pngak", "tngakl", "sngorech",
 "blay", "kles", "mlay", "llatk", "rrenged". 

Hope this is of help.

Anja Altjohann


2- I don't have a list of onsets but I did a dissertation on a
language with the widest array of 2 consonant onsets that I've
encountered: Tsou, and Austronesian language of Taiwan. The
dissertation also contains some discussion about the sources of
consonant cluster preferences, though it doesn't contain the survey
that you're looking for. The dissertation should

be available (now or soon) from the UCLA dissertations in linguistics:
Dept. of Linguistics, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543

The closest thing that I can think of off the top of my head is
Greenberg's chapter in his 1978 Universals of Human language, vol. 2:
Phonology: Some generalizations concerning initial and final consonant

Though I don't agree with his conclusions Clements (1990) has a nice
discussion about cluster types and has extensive references

Clements (1990): The role of the sonority cycle in core
syllabification. In J. Kingston and M Beckman (eds.) Papers in
Laboratory Phonology I. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Richard Wright, Ph.D.
Speech Research Laboratory
Department of Psychology
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405


3- I don't know of a single book or reference for all (or many) Slavic
languages. You could try Christina Bethin's _Polish Syllables: The
Role of Prosody in Phonoogy and Morphology_, 1992, Slavica Publishers.
My subjective impression is that Polish syllables allow for a wider
range of heavy onsets than do Russian.

Tim Beasley *************************************************** 

4- I am a graduate student at the University of Maryland and my
dissertation topic is about obstruent clusters in onsets. Since I am
currently out of town I don't have my references with me, but when I
get back I can send you a list of languages and sources (that list
follows directly after Frida's address information below). In my work
I developed a cross-linguistic typology of the occurrence of these
clusters and provide an account based on Optimality Theory. I would be
very interested in hearing more about your work.

Frida Morelli
Dept. of Linguistics
University of Maryland, College Park 

Frida's information which she sent later after returning to Maryland
where she has her notes:

Heavy onsets meaning any kinds of clusters whether obeying sonority or
not, right? 

Some of the obvious languages are:
Italian (my native language, Nespor 1993 Fonologia. Il Mulino. Bologna)
French (any grammar)
Norwegian, Swedish, German and Dutch (The Germanic Languages ed. Koenig
and van der Auwera. Routledge. 1994)
Gergian (Vogt 1958 Grammaire de la langue georgienne)
Greek (Joseph and Philippaki-Warburton 1987 Modern Greek)
Telugu, Hindi and Purki (Reddy 1987 Constraints on consonant sequences
across some indian languages: a typological view. OPIL 13 39-57)

In general native american languages have very complex onsets, I don't
know whether you are interested in those.

A good source of languages is Greenberg (1978, Universals of Human
Languages) and a paper by Bell 1971 Some patterns of occurrence and
formation of syllable structures in Working papers on language
universals 6.

Let me know if you need more information and please keep me posted on
what you come up with.

5- In response to your query concerning onsets in Russian, you
might have a look at the following dissertation:

 |ACCESSION: 17420959
 | AUTHOR: Saunders, Ross Leslie, 1938-
 |TITLE: Phonological constraints in Russian syllable margins.
 | PLACE: [Providence]
 | YEAR: 1970 1971
 | PUB TYPE: Book
 | FORMAT: iv, 172 l. tables.
 | NOTES: Xerox copy.
 | Typescript and xerox.
 | Vita.
 | Thesis (Ph. D.)--Brown University.
 | Bibliography: leaves 167-172.
 | SUBJECT: Russian language -- Syllabication.
 | Russian language -- Phonology.

as well as Morris Halle's "Sound Pattern of Russian".

Philip W. Davis

Philip W. Davis e-mail:
Department of Linguistics MS23 tel: (713)527-6010
Rice University fax: (713)527-4718
6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005
6- Dear David Harris,

Polish onsets:
* Bethin, Christina Y. ((1992) "Polish Syllables. The Role of Prosody
in Phonology and Morphology" Slavica Publishers, Inc. Columbus,
Ohio. Also: several articles of Jerzy Rubach.

Dutch onsets:
* Trommelen, M.T.G. (1983), The Syllable in Dutch, with special
reference to diminutive formation", PhD-thesis, University of Utrecht.

German onsets:
* Hall, T.A. (1992), "Syllable structure and syllable-related
processes in German", Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tuebingen.

Furthermore, Clements & Keyser (1983), Ito (1986)

Best regards,

Mark Verhijde
Research Institute for Language and Speech
University of Utrecht
The Netherlands
-End of Responses-

David Harris
Language Analysis Systems Voice: (703) 834-6200 ext. 242
2214 Rock Hill Road, Suite 201 Fax: (703) 834-6230
Herndon, VA 22070 

"The more of us who disagree, the greater the chance there is that at
least one of us is right."
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue