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Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

John Anderson 18 Nasal

John Anderson 18 Nasal consonants come, in terms of the metric, between liquids, now distinguished as {|V;C|}, and fricatives. {V.C}, in terms of relative sonority. And this seems to be appropriate. But we have still to characterise voiced fricatives, which contrast with voiceless in English. I propose that these again involve, in English, a simple combination, of the (voiceless) fricative specification and V, introducing the harmonic source, as shown in (41.a), where the relative sonority is also computed: (41) a. voiced fricatives {(V.C),V} = 3(2V:2C);1V = (6V:6C):1V = 7V:6C b. voiceless frics {|V.C|} = 1V:1C The voiceless fricatives are distinguished as showing only V.C, as in (41.b). This appropriately marks the voiced fricatives as being more sonorous than the voiceless, and makes them very close in sonority to the nasal consonants. Indeed, it might seem that the voiced fricatives are ranked by various phenomena in English as slightly more sonorous than the nasal consonants. This of course runs counter to most accounts of sonority rankings. But this ranking would render the English codas in (11.d) unexceptionable in terms of sonority sequencing: (11) d. chasm, prism Though in partial compensation, this adds to the set of ‘anomalous’ clusters with initial /s-/ (witness snow, smell), we can still say that /s/ specifies the class of consonants in which there is a C that bears no dependency relation: {|C|} and {(V;C),C}. And a lower ranking of nasals might seem to be appropriate in relation to the ‘Scottish vowel-length rule’. Recall the informal statement of the environment for heavy realisation of intransitive vowels in the relevant varieties (whatever they might be): weight is assigned only if the vowel appears finally or before formative-final /r/ or before a formative-final voiced fricative; elsewhere intransitive, ‘free’ vowels have the kind of weight associated with transitive, ‘checked’ vowels. The heavy variant does not appear before voiceless fricatives and stops, oral or nasal; it takes adjuncts higher on the ‘English-specific’ sonority hierarchy, including (on the interpretation under consideration) voiced fricatives. Problematical here, however, is the failure with many speakers of the heavy realisation to appear also before /l/, which outranks both the nasals and the voiced fricatives. So it may be that the environment does not indeed involve simply sonority but rather a grouping of voiced fricatives and rhotics, as envisaged by Anderson & Ewen (1987: §4.1.3), for instance. How can we characterise this grouping, in terms of the present proposals? We can differentiate between rhotics and laterals as in (42): 11 (42) a. rhotics {(V;C),V} = 3(3V:1C):1V = 9V,3C,1V = 10V:3C b. laterals {|V;C|} = 3V:1C With respect to the metric, laterals come appropriately, with respect to sonority, between rhotics and nasals. Notice that in terms of the present proposals rhotics and voiced fricatives are not merely highly sonorous but are also the only contrastive segment types in that environment to contain two occurrences of V, one of them in simple combination with the rest of the specification, so that they form the sub-class of consonants {(V),V}. We can associate this with their role in the ‘Scottish vowel-length rule’. The representations for nasals and voiced fricatives also share the property of involving components in a relation of non-contrastive non-dependency – components that are

19 Structural analogy in language, and its limits simply combined, and do not involve reference to dependency. We have in this sense two relatively independent components. I suggest this reflects their perceptual and articulatory complexity: voiced fricatives involve two different sound sources – a harmonic and a noisy one; and nasals involve two resonators coupled in parallel. This will assume some significance in the discussion of timing in the next subsection. 12 1.4 Dependency and timing Another interface property characteristic of phonological representations is timing, of segments relative to each other, and of components of segments relative to each other, as well as extra-segmental, or prosodic components relative to each other and the segments. I am going to suggest that relative timing, or coordination of elements is guaranteed by dependency. Consider, for instance, the not uncommon kind of historical development exemplified by the spellings in (43) from English: (43) a. emetig(e) ⇒ emti ⇒ empty b. demester ⇒ demster ⇒ dempster ‘judge’/name I am not concerned here with the loss of the unstressed vowel suggested in each case by the first two successive spellings (though that would form part of the ‘whole story’). What concerns us is that the final Modern English phonological form represented here results from Middle English epenthesis of a plosive between a nasal and a following obstruent. This, I suggest, is facilitated by the absence of a dependency relation, and thus full coordination in timing, between the two components of the representation of the nasal – {(V;C),C} – so that the sonorant/ nasal-cavity component (V;C) can terminate before the closure (C), and the latter part of the closure emerges as the homorganic minimal plosive. We can represent the development graphically in terms of the successive stages in (44): (44) a. {V/{C}} {(V;C),C{u}} b. {V/{C}} | {V/{C}} {\{V}} {V;C} {C{u}} c. {V/{C}} | {V/{C}} {C\{V}} {V;C\C} {{u}}

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