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Re: THEORY: Origin of complex syllable structure.

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  • Alex Fink
    ... [...] ... The origin? The question sounds like it s in the grip of this unfortunate all languages must really be the same fever. Surely, there are
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 3, 2013
      On Tue, 2 Apr 2013 22:39:04 -0300, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...> wrote:

      >Hello!
      >
      >Are there any theories about the origin of complex syllable structure?
      >Are consonant clusters analysed by anyone as having been originated
      >from loss of final vowels in compound words?
      [...]
      >Could CV syllables be seen as the primitive ones?

      "The" origin? The question sounds like it's in the grip of this unfortunate 'all languages must really be the same' fever.

      Surely, there are languages that are reconstructible as having had a purely open-syllable stage, which then lost some vowels and thereby gained clusters. Proto-Slavic is a familiar example, for instance, with the fall of the yers. Proto-Slavic was not clusterless, it had some initial clusters, but it's the same sort of thing in principle. On the other hand, Proto-Slavic descended from Proto-Indo-European, which had plenty of closed syllables. So this sort of thing fails to provide any evidence for primordiality.

      There is one of these overly-creative theories of phonology out there -- government phonology, maybe it is? that's the name coming to mind -- that does claim that every word is underlyingly made out of CV units, where the Cs and the Vs both may be zero.

      Myself, though, I'm of a fairly opposite position. The correct theory of cross-linguistic phonology, if you ask me, is probably nothing more than what you get by combining articulatory and acoustic phonetics with the human bias towards categorical perception, and some general cognition stuff about analogy = pattern recognition and maintenance; there's probably no special cognitive principles about syllables or any of it.
      Syllables, for instance, I think are reasonably explained by a few things. For one, nuclei (for familiarity I'll say "vowels") are the parts of speech streams with most sonic energy, and so most consonant distinctions are best and clearestly perceived by what they do to adjoining vowels. This is doubly so for consonants _before_ vowels, since this is where any consonant that involved stopping (or restricting) the airflow has its release burst (or quasi-burst). As such, it's natural for consonants to be understood as forming a unit with adjacent vowels, since so much of their acoustic signals are overlaid: ergo, syllables. Likewise onsets are bound more closely than codas.
      On top of that, the existence of syllable _boundaries_ is probably shored up by analogical effects of patterning of sounds at _word_ boundaries: if every word can be cut into chunks such that each chunk woulda been a phonotactically valid word on its own, then it's reasonable for analogy to let sound changes act on these "subwords".


      On Wed, 3 Apr 2013 19:56:01 +0200, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <tsela.cg@...> wrote:

      >On 3 April 2013 19:30, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:
      >
      >>
      >> What about VC syllabic structure? Is that attested anywhere, or it is
      >> regarded merely as CVC with the first C as a glottal stop (or
      >> equivalent)?
      >>
      >>
      >The Arrernte language (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aranda_language) has
      >been argued to have a VC(C) syllabic structure. I don't know how accepted
      >that analysis is.

      I actually talked about something similar to the above in connexion with Arrernte recently:
      http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=CONLANG;db93d719.1303B

      Alex
    • And Rosta
      ... It s called (tada!) CVCV Phonology, an offshoot of Government Phonology. --And.
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 8, 2013
        Alex Fink, On 03/04/2013 19:41:
        > There is one of these overly-creative theories of phonology out there
        > -- government phonology, maybe it is? that's the name coming to mind
        > -- that does claim that every word is underlyingly made out of CV
        > units, where the Cs and the Vs both may be zero.

        It's called (tada!) CVCV Phonology, an offshoot of Government Phonology.

        --And.
      • Gary Shannon
        ... Upon first reading that, I thought what a clever name. Then I realized that you were _not_ saying that it was called Tada Phonology . That s a shame. I
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 8, 2013
          On Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 12:18 PM, And Rosta <and.rosta@...> wrote:

          > ---
          > It's called (tada!) CVCV Phonology, an offshoot of Government Phonology.
          >
          > --And.
          >

          Upon first reading that, I thought "what a clever name." Then I realized
          that you were _not_ saying that it was called "Tada Phonology". That's a
          shame. I think that "Tada Phonology" makes a very good name for it, being
          that "tada" _is_ CVCV.

          --gary
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