Vowel and Consonant Sonority and Coda Weight: A Cross-Linguistic Study
Matthew Gordon, Carmen Jany, Carlos Nash, and Nobutaka Takara
208-216 (complete paper
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This paper reports the results of a study of perceptual energy and syllable weight. Results suggest a close fit between energy and CVC weight, but only in languages in which CVC is light. In these languages, the average energy of the rime in CVC is closer to that of CV than CVV, in keeping with the light status of CVC. In languages with heavy CVC, however, CVC did not have reliably greater energy than CV, contra expectations. Furthermore, a comparison of rimes differing in the sonority of their coda consonants showed only an inconsistent tendency for rimes ending in higher sonority codas to have greater energy than those ending in lower sonority codas. Finally, a corpus-based tabulation of codas based on token rather than type frequency failed to account for the parameter of CVC weight: languages with heavy CVC did not show a greater skewing toward higher sonority codas than languages with light CVC. The present results underscore the complexity of the relationship between phonetic properties and phonological weight and suggest that there might not be a single phonetic dimension that successfully predicts the full range of attested weight criteria.
Proceedings of the 26th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Charles B. Chang and Hannah J. Haynie
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