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The paper stresses the need to distinguish between two subtypes of binary laryngeal systems, viz. [voice] languages versus [spread glottis] languages (“laryngeal realism”—Honeybone 2005). It criticizes the use of the primes H and L for this distinction in Government Phonology, and proposes an alternative representation, based on Backley-Takahashi (1998) and Nasukawa-Backley (2005). This feature geometric model assumes the same set of melodic components for obstruents and sonorants within a system but with a difference in the status of source elements across the language types. Therefore, accompanied by the mechanism of element activation, it is claimed to capture the cross-linguistic observations more adequately.

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The basic types of lenition environments (‘initial’, ‘intervocalic’, ‘final’) need to be separately evaluated as they differ along parameters like word position (e.g., pre-consonantal vs. final codas) or stress relations. This paper argues that we need to recognise an additional such parameter: the length of the vowel preceding an intervocalic consonant. We show that a number of phenomena from varieties of English and German show lenition patterns which draw a distinction between reflexes found in post-short (vc) and post-long (vvc) environments. The theoretical consequence of our observations is that phonological theory needs to be able to account for the post-short vs. post-long distinction in the form of a parametrically-determined representational difference.

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English represents stress-sensitive consonant lenition systems, in which the onsets of stressed syllables (as well as word-initial consonants) tend to resist diachronic lenition, resulting in synchronic alternations between foot-initial and foot-internal variants. However, there is empirical evidence that a further distinction needs to be drawn between two subtypes of foot-internal positions: one which is weak proper, included within a bimoraic domain (corresponding to the “minimal foot” in prosodic approaches); and a less weak (“semi-weak”) position outside that minimal domain. Crucially, lenition outside the domain implies lenition within, and no cases of lenition in semi-weak only are on record. The paper uses the representations of Strict CV Phonology to capture the equivalence of two forms of the “minimal foot” (the CVCV sequence and the long-vowelled heavy syllable) and to connect this “bimoraicity” of the domain to the implications in consonant lenition, a benefit moraic theory does not offer. At the same time, it properly predicts the non-existence of the unattested lenition pattern.

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Acta Linguistica Academica
Authors: Katalin Balogné Bérces and Shanti Ulfsbjorninn
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Abstract

We place the healthy diversity of current (i.e., early 21st-century) phonological theory under scrutiny, and identify the four fundamental approaches that make it up: Rule-Based Phonology, Representation-Based Phonology, Constraint-Based Phonology, and Usage-Based Phonology. We then focus on the key aspects of and recent developments in Representation-Based Phonology: we separate out hybrid models and purely representational ones, we identify Government Phonology (GP) as the most popular form of the latter (and show that it is even present in what we call ‘GP-friendly’ analyses), and finally, we discuss and illustrate recent innovations in both subsegmental and prosodic structure in the two strands that we identify as ‘hyperhierarchical’ (or ‘vertical’) and ‘flat’ (or ‘horizontal’).

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