This paper proposes a novel representation of branching onsets within the framework of Government Phonology 2. They are argued to be complex onset phrases, where the second member is directly embedded within the first and controls its head. The system predicts that for fricatives, the ability to become the first member of a branching onset depends on their place of articulation. In particular, [s]-like fricatives (S) are predicted to lack this ability, thereby explaining Kaye’s (1992) empirical generalization that SC clusters are never branching onsets.
The article illustrates some of the salient features of Government Phonology (GP) 2.0 by axiomatising (a subclass of) the set of possible Putonghua forms.We show that a phonological theory can profit by assuming that phonological representations are hierarchical, just like syntactic representations. A structural relation of c++command, a relative of the well-known c-command, is used heavily. The similarity with syntax is further underlined by the introduction of a phonological Binding Theory: illicit representations are prohibited by the LUxI Principles, the phonological counterpart of Principles A, B and C.