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Lecture 4 The Syllable.

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1 Lecture 4 The Syllable

2 Syllables Words consist of a Consonant followed by a Vowel.
Distortion of adult speech by children is common and typical. However, this distortion obeys certain unwritten and unconscious laws. These laws govern the way segments are abstractly connected in clusters known as Syllables. Segments that are not consistent with these laws are not pronounced.

3 The Core Syllable The core syllable is made up of a Nucleus preceded by an Onset: O(nset) N(ucleus) C V

4 The Core Syllable Some languages only have CV syllables.
More commonly, languages allow for syllables of greater complexity. The core syllable is, however, found in every language. The fact that CV syllables are cross-linguistically attested offers an interesting parallel with their invariable occurrence in early child language.

5 Sonority and the Syllable
What motivates the CV configuration? Some sounds are more sonorous than others. Vowels have more sonority than consonants. Therefore, sonority goes up from the onset to the nucleus.

6 The Coda Syllable structure can be considerably richer than CV.
The segmental string that makes up a word like // ‘captain’ does not fit into the core syllable’s template.   O N O N      

7 The Coda Segments that are not affiliated to a syllable fail to be pronounced. Syllables act as licensers of phonetic material. Therefore, /p/ and /n/ must be part of a syllable, as both are pronounced in the English word ‘captain’.

8 The Coda Syllable structure in English admits more segmental material than the core syllable. This is licensed through the Coda.   O N Cd O N Cd      

9 The Rime Consider the following: A B C [] pat [] pat [] pat
[b] bat [] pan [I] pit [k] cat [] pad [] pot [f] fat [] pack [] put The three groups exhibit the same amount of phonetic overlap: [] in A, [] in B, and [ … ] in C. However, ONLY the ones in group A rhyme with each other.

10 The Rime Rhyming is not just a matter of overlap.
The overlap must affect a certain position within the syllable: N + Cd. The nucleus and the coda group together in a constituent called Rime (R): O R N Cd   

11 Basic Syllable Typology
The nucleus is essential to the syllable. Onsets and codas are optional. So, the basic syllable types are: ON ONCd NCd N The core syllable template can undergo a number of changes: - delete the onset ON  N C   / _____ V CV  V - insert a coda ON  ONCd   C / V _____ CV  CVC - delete the onset ON  NCd and insert a coda C   / _____ V CV  VC

12 Complexity The core syllable CV is the simplest. - No operations
The VC is the most complex. - Both operations (deletion & insertion) The V and CVC have intermediate complexity. - One operation (deletion OR insertion)

13 Complexity     O N N Cd O N Cd N        
    O N N Cd O N Cd N         he is teeth are

14 Complexity Children acquire simpler syllable types before the more complex ones. The presence of a more complex type in any one language presupposes the presence of its simpler counterpart(s). Syllable-related historical change tends to go in the direction of greater syllable simplicity. In languages with a rich range of syllable patterns, simpler syllables are more frequent in syllable inventories and in language use.

15 Complex Nuclei Consider the following:   O R O R N Cd N Cd
  O R O R N Cd N Cd  i     The two words have the same syllable structure (ONCd). However, do they fit the same syllable template (CVC)?

16 Complex Nuclei Syllable structure is built on the timing tier, not on the melody tier:    O R O R O R N Cd N Cd N Cd x x x x x x x x x x x  i     b a  t beat bit bite CV:C CVC CVVC

17 Complex Onsets To accommodate words like flag, glad, dress, and the like, the representation must allow for onsets with two timing slots: O R N Cd x x x x     flag CCVC

18 More on Sonority A syllable is made up of a segment of high sonority flanked by segments of lower sonority. A syllable is a Cluster of Sonority, defined by a sonority peak. And, speech is a sequence of such sonority clusters.

19 Branching Onsets in English
Bi-consonantal Onset Clusters: [pl] plain [] pray [bl] bless [b] bread [fl] fly [f] frame [] three [t] tree [d] dream [sl] sleep [S] shrub [kl] clean [k] cream [gl] glass [g] green

20 Branching Onsets in English
The first timing slot is filled with an obstruent. The second timing slot is filled with a liquid. The opposite order is never attested. Why?

21 Conditioned Templates
The obstruent + liquid clusters can be formalized by imposing it into syllable templates: O R N Ob Lq

22 Sonority Hierarchy A more plausible account, however, is offered by the “Sonority Hierarchy”: 4 Vowels Most Sonorous 3 Liquids 2 Nasals 1 Obstruents Least Sonorous The Syllable Sonority Profile: i - rises ii - reaches a peak iii - falls

23 Sonority Hierarchy [sli:p]

24 Sonority Hierarchy *[lsi:p]

25 Sonority Sequencing The sonority profile of the syllable is regulated by a universal principle: The Sonority Sequencing The sonority profile of the syllable must rise until it peaks, and then fall. So, an onset such as ls, the converse of existing sl, would violate the Sonority Sequencing Principle.

26 Gaps Although they are consistent with the Sonority Sequencing, (stop + fricative) or (stop + nasal) clusters do not occur in English onsets. Is their absence from English arbitrary?

27 Sonority Distance Sonority Distance may vary:
(stop + fricative) = 0 (stop + nasal) = 1 (stop + liquid) = 2 In many languages, the segments of complex subsyllabic constituents need to satisfy a minimum of sonority distance. This requirement is formalized through the Minimal Sonority Distance parameter. For English, this parameter is set as follows: Minimal Sonority Distance in English Onsets The minimal sonority distance between the two elements of an English complex onset is 2.

28 Summing up Syllables are abstract structures which cannot themselves be pronounced. Children’s utterances consist principally of CV syllables. There are no languages where CV syllables are not attested. Syllable structure is richer than the core syllable. Syllable complexity can be measured against the optimal CV configuration. Syllable structure is built on the timing tier. The distribution of vowels and consonants within a syllable is a consequence of sonority differences between these two classes of sounds. The constraints on possible branching onsets in English are also explained by the principle of Sonority Sequencing and the Minimal Sonority Distance.

29 Assignment: Key Questions (pages 318)
Next Week - 10 & 11 Assignment: Key Questions (pages 318)

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