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Pansyllabic constraints

Pansyllabicconstraints refer to phonotactic restrictions of segment co-occurrences or segment sequences whose elements belong to different constituents within a syllable.

[+] General information

Pansyllabic constraints(Cairns 1988:229) are constraints which are related to phonotactic restrictions of segment co-occurrences or segment sequences within a syllable. They refer to restrictions other than the ones related to syllable constituents, such as onset, rhyme and coda. They deal with the compatibility of consonants and vowels or the recurrence of certain consonants in different positions within one syllable. It is assumed that these restrictions apply due to the individual segments being too similar (OCP effects).

[+] Compatibility of consonants and vowels / Co-occurrence restrictions on singleton onsets + nuclei

As illustrated in table 1 (adapted from Cohen et al. 1972:92, each singleton consonant in onset position can be followed by any vowel of the Dutch vowel inventory, apart from four combinations. The combinations /*ʋy/, /*ʋø/, /*ji/ and /*hə/ are not allowed in Dutch. Notice that schwa can only occur in unstressed syllables, whereas all other vowels can be found in stressed syllables as well.

Table 1
/i/ /e/ /y/ /ø/ /u/ /o/ /a/ /ɪ/ /ʏ/ /ɛ/ /ɑ/ /ɔ/ /ə/
/p/ pier peer puur peul poel pool paal pit put pet pat pot (wim)per
/b/ bier beer buur beul boet boot baat bik buk bek bak bok (zwab)ber
/t/ tier teer tuur teut toen toon taal til tulp tel tal tol (be)ter
/d/ dier deel duur deur doel dool daal dik dun dek dal dol (a)dem
/k/ kier keer kuur keur koer koor kaar kin kun ken kan kon (te)ken
/f/ fier fee fuut feut foe(ter) fooi faam fiks fut fel fat fop (oe)fen
/v/ vier veer vuur veu(len) voer voor vaar vil vul vel val vol (ze)ven
/s/ sier safe (re)çu (mas)seur soes so(ber) saai sip suf cent sap sop (wis)sel
/z/ zier zeer zuur zeul zoel zool zaal zit zulk zet zat zot (no)zem
/x/ɣ/ gier geel guur geul goed goot gaas gil gul geld gal gold (ze)gel
/h/ hier heer huur heul hoed hoog haag hit huls hel hal hol -
/m/ mier meer muur meug moet moot maat milt mul meld mal mol (zo)mer
/n/ nier neef nu neus noest nood naad nis nut net nap nok (zo)ne
/l/ lied leed lu(ren) leuk loens loog laag lig lucht leg lach log (veu)len
/r/ riet reeds ru(ne) reuk roet rood raad rist rust rest ras ros (we)reld
/ʋ/ wied weet - - woest woog waag wil wulp wel wal wol (klu)wen
/j/ - je(gens) ju(bel) jeuk joel jool jaar jicht juk jek(ker) jas jok (ma)jem

Typological studies (Kawasaki 1982, Janson 1986) have found that languages tend to avoid sequences such as /w/ + round vowel (e.g. /wu/) and /j/ + front vowel (e.g. /ji/), in which a glide is followed by a vowel that is identical in place of articulation and similar in manner of articulation (relatively little or no constriction in the oral tract). As a consequence, the occurrence of these adjacent segments is prohibited by restrictions based on the OCP(Goldsmith 1976). It can be assumed that a similar argument rules out the sequences /ʋ/ + front rounded A-class vowel, i.e. /*ʋy/, /*ʋø/, and /j/ + high front A-class vowel, i.e. /*ji/, in Dutch. Notice that the sequences /ʋu/ and /ʋœy/ are permitted in Dutch (e.g. woest/ʋust/wild and wuiven/ʋœyvən/to wave), as well as any combination of /ʋ/ or /j/ with any B-class vowel.

Another banned sequence in Dutch is /h/ followed by schwa. Both segments /h/ and schwa lack any supralaryngeal specification, i.e. they are not specified for place of articulation. According to Booij (1995:42, citing C. Gussenhoven) this phenomenon is the result of a general place constraint:

Place Constraint
A syllable σ must dominate Place.

This constraint predicts that syllables like /ə/, /hə/ and /hət/ (with underlying schwa) are impossible, whereas a syllable like /ət/ is allowed. The Dutch data confirm these predictions.

[+] Co-occurrence restrictions of liquids in one syllable

Another type of co-occurrence restrictions refers to the recurrence of liquids within the same syllable. The following examples (cf. Booij 1995:43) illustrate the fact that Dutch allows for syllables of the type /lVl/ if and only if the vowel V is a B-class vowel. In contrast, syllables of the type /rVr/ are only possible if and only if the vowel V is an A-class vowel. In tables 2 and 3 additional examples are provided to show that this phenomenon is not the result of co-occurrence restrictions on either onset + nucleus or nucleus + coda sequence.

Table 2
lal/lɑl/to jabber
liel/lil/ but cf. lief/liv/lovely; wiel/ʋil/wheel, gear
luul/lyl/ but cf. Luuk/lyk/(proper name); (mole)cuul/mo.lə.kyl/molecule
leel/lel/ but cf. leek/lek/layman; keel/kel/throat
laal/lal/ but cf. laat/lat/late; taal/tal/language
lool/lol/ but cf. loop/lop/run; kool/kol/cabbage
loel/lul/ but cf. loer/lur/trick; doel/dul/objective, target

Table 3
Ruurd/ryrt/(proper name)
rir/rɪr/ but cf. rIl/rɪl/crease; Dirk/dɪrk/(proper name)
rur/rʏr/ but cf. rul/rʏl/loose; pur(per)/pʏr.pər/purple
rer/rɛr/ but cf. rel/rɛl/riot; ver/ʋɛr/distant
rar/rɑr/ but cf. ram/rɑm/ram; kar/kɑr/cart
ror/rɔr/ but cf. rok/rɔk/skirt; por/pɔr/stab, poke

[+] Co-occurrence restrictions of glides in one syllable

A phenomenon similar to the one described above for liquids also holds for glides. In Dutch, two identical glides cannot co-occur in one syllable. Notice that glides can generally only followA-class vowels. The only exception to the co-occurrence restriction is the word weeuw/ʋeʋ/, a contraction of weduwe/ʋedyʋə/widow. Table (1) above provides examples which illustrate that for some of those onset + nucleus sequences additional co-occurrence restrictions apply. The second columns of tables (4) and (5) contain examples of the particular vowel + glide sequences, which are sometimes also called pseudo diphthongs.

Table 4
jaaj/jaj/ but cf. saai/saj/boring
jooj/joj/ but cf. kooi/koj/cage
joej/juj/ but cf. loei/luj/monster, whopper, cracker

Table 5
wiew/ʋiʋ/ but cf. nieuw/niʋ/new
wuuw/ʋyʋ/ but cf. (barbe)cue/bɑr.bə.kjuʋ/grill
weeuw/ʋeʋ/ cf. also leeuw/leʋ/lion

  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Cairns, C.E1988Phonotactics, markedness and lexical representationPhonology5209-236
  • Cohen, Antonie, Ebeling, C.L., Fokkema, K. & Holk, A.G.F. van1972Fonologie van het Nederlands en het Fries. Inleiding tot de moderne klankleerMartinus Nijhoff
  • Goldsmith, John1976An overview of segmental phonologyLinguistic Analysis223-68
  • Janson, Tore1986Cross-linguistic trends in the frequency of CV sequencesPhonology Yearbook3179-195
  • Kawasaki, Haruko1982An acoustical basis for universal constraints on sound sequencesUniversity of California, BerkeleyThesis
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