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Title:Prosodic Categorisation
Authors:Paul de Lacy
Abstract:Prosodic Categorisation

Paul de Lacy

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

The structural elements of the prosodic hierarchy and the ways
in which phonological generalisations make reference to them
are investigated. The different types (categories) of such
elements, especially the syllable, are examined more closely.

Specifically, the traditional weight dichotomy of ‘heavy’ vs.
‘light’ syllables is shown to be empirically inadequate for
the explanation of the diversity of stress systems attested in
natural languages.
Rejecting functional explanations of syllable weight, this thesis
proposes a structure-based alternative within the framework of
Optimality Theory. It is demonstrated that grammars may
distinguish up to six or more syllable weight categories by
means of a small number of ranked and violable constraints.
This also accounts for reference to categories of elements other
than the syllable. Both prosodic structure and properties of
elements, especially segmental sonority, are shown to be factors
in distinguishing categories.
Here, as well as more generally, the Strict Layering Hypothesis
is found to be both too restrictive and empirically inadequate
as a constraint on which elements of prosodic structure are
available to phonological processes. It is replaced with a more
general Prosodic Accessibility Hypothesis, which in effect extends
prosodic reference to minimal non-adjacency.
This thesis has implications for the study of syllable
weight, syllable structure, prosodic categorisation, and the
organisation of the grammar.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Part 1
Part 2