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Title:Markedness, Faithfulness, Vowel Quality and Syllable Structure in French
Authors:Caroline Fery
Comment:Phonetic fonts (SIL Manuscript 93)
Abstract:This paper reviews the distributional properties of tense and lax vowels
in a relatively standard dialect of Northern French which still contrasts
vowel length, and examines the interaction between markedness and
faithfulness constraints in OT. The intricate interplay between vowel
quality, syllable structure and cooccurrence restrictions between vowels
and consonants that one observes in French makes it an ideal language for
exploring the interactions between the two kinds of constraints. As a
general tendency, it can safely be assumed that tense vowels appear in
open syllables and lax vowels in closed syllables.

However, the situation is complicated by the fact that only mid vowels
contrast a tense and a lax variant ? at least in the dialect discussed
here ? and that the distinction is made (nearly) exclusively in the
phrase-final syllable, also preconsonantally. Further complications arise
because of the effect of idiosyncratic cooccurrence restrictions. Some of
these difficulties are eliminated by a phonologically abstract model of
the syllable structure. In the analysis developed below, it is assumed
that French has semisyllables, confined to the word-final position, which
function as onsets of nucleusless syllables. This explains why tense
vowels can be in apparently (i.e. phonetically) closed syllables.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1