|Title:||Reduction, frequency and morphology in Singaporean English prosody|
|Comment:||Unpublished manuscript, previously titled 'Reduction, frequency and prosodic phonology in Singaporean English'.|
|Abstract:||Several factors coincide to make the interaction of frequency, morphology and prosody particularly visible in Singaporean English (SgEng). Segmentation of prosodic words (pwords) is unusually explicit: glottal stops consistently appear at vowel-initial pword left edges, while surface tone assignment is both stress-dependent and sensitive to pword right edges. At the same time, other aspects of SgEng prosody are much obscured by the acoustic non-salience of stress and its inertness in phonological processes such as stress shift.
Here I propose that variation in surface tone can be used to infer destressing and hence primary/secondary stress distinctions. Combined with rich evidence for pword edges, this permits us to infer recursive pword structures which are sensitive to destressing processes. SgEng initialisms such as MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) allow us to examine the interaction of multiple stems within high-frequency lexical items, demonstrating that lexical frequency is correlated with reductions in both stress and pword structure.