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Academic Paper

Title: Invariant Syllable Skeleton, Complex Segments and Word Edges
Author: Tobias Scheer
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Université de Nice
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Abstract: San Duanmu's Syllable Structure: The Limits of Variation raises a number of questions that are of general interest for phonological theory. Of special interest here are: the genesis and management of linearity in complex segments, the place of analogy (or paradigm uniformity) in grammar, the role of morphology in accounting for phonological patterns, the balance of static (distributional patterns) and dynamic (phonological processes) evidence for syllable structure, the role of stress in syllabification, and the import of corpus-based data for phonological analysis. In each case, Duanmu's proposals are evaluated according to their intrinsic consistency, the empirical record and the relevant body of literature. Alternative ways of handling the phenomena are offered, and these are fairly traditional in most cases. Duanmu's book is particularly relevant in the current constitution of the field where the see-saw movement between computation and representations seems to swing back in direction of the latter after having long been immobilised on the computational end. Standing clearly on the representational side, the theory exposed in the book aims to show that all surface strings may be reduced to a fixed and invariant syllable template, C(onsonant)V(owel)X. This enterprise is interesting especially in presence of another representationally-oriented theory, CVCV (Lowenstamm 1996, Scheer 2004), which also aims at reducing surface variation to an invariant syllabic skeleton, made of a monotonic sequence of CV units. However, the CVX and the CVCV templates are quite distinct, and the strategies that are used in order to accommodate the surface string are opposite (shrinking in the former case, expanding in the latter).


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 48, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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