Recent research in phonology has moved away from the position that syllables are internally structured. In this literature, differences in the phonological behaviour of obstruent-initial (play) versus s-initial (stay, slay) clusters, which were formerly used to motivate a difference in representation, are proposed to be explained solely by perceptual considerations. In this paper, a structural approach to syllable well-formedness is returned to, but one which is informed by perceptual considerations. Although perceptual factors account for why s can be followed by stops in sC clusters, a perceptual approach to syllable well-formedness cannot explain why s+stop is the optimal sC cluster nor why the cluster worsens as the sonority of C increases. It is shown that these observations follow straightforwardly from a coda+onset analysis of sC clusters (following Kaye 1992), coupled with the Syllable Contact Law (Murray & Vennemann 1983). The paper then explores the predictions that stem from a coda+onset analysis of sC clusters for second language acquisition. It is shown that in the acquisition of a subset grammar, learners exposed only to the ill-formedness of s+stop correctly infer the ill-formedness of s+sonorant, consistent with a coda+onset analysis of these clusters, in combination with syllable contact.
Proceedings of the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Kyeong-min Kim, Pocholo Umbal, Trevor Block, Queenie Chan, Tanie Cheng, Kelli Finney, Mara Katz, Sophie Nickel-Thompson, and Lisa Shorten Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-469-0 library binding
viii + 426 pages
publication date: 2016
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA