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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

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Academic Paper


Title: A representational parameter for onsetless syllables
Author: Geoffrey Schwartz
Institution: Adam Mickiewicz Univerisity in Poznan
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Subject Language: Kerewe
Arrernte, Eastern
Tachelhit
Polish
Abstract: Syllables without consonantal onsets may be invisible for stress-assignment, reduplication, or tone. Many authors attribute this behavior to some sort of prosodic deficiency, while having little to say about cases in which onsetless syllables act as well-formed constituents. In the Onset Prominence (OP) representational environment, the ambiguous behavior of onsetless syllables is explained by means of a single representational parameter. Prosodically active initial vowels are assumed to be specified for the Vocalic Onset (VO) layer of structure, a specification lacking in prosodically inert onsetless syllables. Diverse phonological implications of VO specification for KiKerewe, Eastern Arrernte, Tashlhiyt Berber and Polish are examined. In the case of Polish, phonetic data on the glottalization of initial vowels provide additional support for the representational proposal. Finally, the place of the OP environment within the context of modern phonological theory is discussed.

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This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 49, Issue 3.

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