There are several
phonological categories whose markedness-as inferred from typical markedness
metrics- fails to match the representational complexity posited for them. More
specifically, glottal stops, geminate clusters, and onsetless syllables are
representationally the simplest of their category, yet other criteria, like
implicational hierarchies, mark them as special. This paper aims at
comprehending this paradox.
I argue that English has no voicing assimilation, in fact, it does not have phonologically voiced segments at all. Voicing in English is spontaneous in sonorants, while obstruents may be phonetically voiced only if lenis and surrounded by spontaneously or passively voiced sounds. The paper claims that most obstruent clusters of English are traditionally misanalysed as fortis+fortis clusters. These clusters are all either fortis+lenis or lenis+fortis; in fact, fortis+fortis clusters are completely ruled out in English.