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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Book Information


Title: Complexity Scales and Licensing in Phonology
Written By: Eugeniusz Cyran
URL: http://www.degruyter.de/cont/fb/sk/detailEn.cfm?id=IS-9783110221497-1
Series Title: Studies in Generative Grammar [SGG] 105

The aim of this book is to demonstrate that, in a representation-based
model, the phonological organization of speech sounds within a word is
reducible to the licensing properties of nuclei with respect to
structurally defined complexities which pose varying demands on the
licenser. It is assumed that the primitive licensing relation is that
between a nucleus and its onset (O N). There are two main types of
complexities concerning the onset position. Substantive complexity is an
important aspect of phonological organisation at the melodic level, while
the syllabic configurations in which the onset may be found are referred to
under the heading of formal complexity.

At the melodic level, complexity is defined in terms of the number of
privative primes called elements. The asymmetries in the subsegmental
representations of consonants and vowels are shown to play a pivotal role
in understanding a number of phenomena, such as typological patterns,
markedness effects, phonological processes, segmental inventories, and,
what is most important, the model allows us to see a direct connection
between phonological representations and processes. For example, the
deletion of [g] in Welsh initial mutations is strictly related to the fact
that the prime which crucially defines this object also happens to be the
target of Soft Mutation.

The complexity at the syllabic level is defined in terms of formal onset
configurations called governing relations, of which some are easier to
license than others. The formal complexity scale is not rerankable, and
corresponds directly to the markedness of syllabic types. Since each formal
configuration requires licensing from the following nucleus, syllable
typology can be directly derived from the licensing strength of nuclei. The
interaction between the higher prosodic organisation, for example, the
level of the foot, and the syllabic level is also easily expressible in
this model because higher prosody is built on nuclei. Therefore, prosody
may tamper with the status of nuclei as licensers by deeming some of them
as prosodically weaker than others, thus producing a non-rerankable scale
of nuclear licensers (a " P). The inclusion of the empty nucleus as a
possible licenser allows us to unify the scale of relatively marked
contexts in segmental phenomena, and also to account for such problems as
extrasyllabicity, complex clusters, super heavy rhymes, and other
exceptional strings. The role of nuclei as licensers in unifying various
levels of phonological representation from melody to word structure is
unquestionable. There are other areas of phonological theory which can be
expressed in this model. These include the role of nuclear strength scales
in register switches, dialectal variation, historical development, language
acquisition, and the interaction between phonology and morphology.

Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Generative Linguistics
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Format: Electronic
ISBN-13: 9783110221503
Pages: 311
Prices: Europe EURO 99.95
Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9783110221497
Pages: 311
Prices: Europe EURO 99.95