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Summary Details

Query:   Sum: Sum: Onsetless syllables
Author:  Katalin Balogne Berces
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Phonetics

Summary:   Dear Linguists,

In issue 15.289, I posted the summary of the replies I had received to a query about onsetless syllables in languages. Besides others, a question related to the implicational relationship between hiatuses and vowel-initial words. To the original query, I only received replies with examples from languages with initial onsetless syllables but no medial hiatuses tolerated (plus there are well-known examples where both/neither exist), so it seemed that the beginning of the word was somehow ?more flexible? as far as onsetless syllables go. After my summary appeared, however, I got a few more replies, which is why I am obliged to write another summary.

Most surprisingly, Jennifer L Smith provided me with examples of languages that have medial hiatus but no word-initial onsetless syllables:
Arapaho (Salzmann, Zdenk. 1956. Arapaho I: Phonology. International Journal of American Linguistics 22:49-56. [ = with breve])
Guhang Ifugao (Newell, Leonard E. 1956. Phonology of the Guhang Ifugao dialect. Philippine Journal of Science 85:523-539. and Landman, Meredith. 2003. Morphological contiguity. In Angela Carpenter, Andries Coetzee, and Paul de Lacy, eds., University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers in Linguistics 26: Papers in Optimality Theory II. Amherst,
Mass.: GLSA, pp. 141-169.)
Hausa (Greenberg, Joseph H. 1941. Some problems in Hausa phonology. Language 17:316-323.)
Guarani' [ = with acute accent] (Gregores, Emma, and Jorge A. Suarez. 1967. A Description of Colloquial Guarani'. The Hague: Mouton.)
Tabukang Sangir (Maryott, Kenneth R. 1961. The phonology and morphophonemics of Tabukang Sangir. Philippine Social Sciences and Humanities Review 26:111-126.)
She presents an analysis of this pattern, with examples from Arapaho and Guhang Ifugao, in her dissertation (Smith, Jennifer L. 2002. Phonological Augmentation in Prominent Positions. PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.)
She also refers me to
Downing, Laura J. 1998. On the prosodic misalignment of onsetless syllables. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 16:1-52.

All this suggests that the toleration of word-initial and word-internal occurrences of onsetless syllables is regulated by two separate parameters, and that?s why all four logical possibilities exist, although the type in which vowel-initial words are allowed but no medial onsetless syllables are tolerated seems to be more common. (This pattern is also exemplified by Mongolian, as Jan-Olof Svantesson writes.)

A related issue is what happens before vowel-initial words in connected speech. While segmenting sentences by a speaker of Spanish, Gina Cook found that there is often ''creakyness'' (glottalization) between vowel final and vowel initial words.

I thank all who have replied for their comments and suggestions. I?m still looking for examples of connected speech phenomena, especially cases where a final consonant undergoes a change when followed by a vowel-initial word. If you come by any such examples, please let me know.

Thanks again,
Katalin Balogn? B?rces

LL Issue: 15.289
Date Posted: 13-Mar-2004
Original Query: Read original query


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