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The phonological status of words with exceptionalities in the behaviour of superheavy syllables
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This topic summarizes and combines exceptionalities in the behaviour of superheavy syllables. Superheavy syllables have three core properties:

  1. they always end in a consonant
  2. they are strong attractors of primary stress
  3. they are restricted to word-final position
Generalization (1) expresses the basis upon which a superheavy syllable is defined; as a consequence, the demand of a final consonant is necessarily obeyed by all syllables that qualify as superheavy. Yet although generalizations (2) and (3) are strong as well, none of them is exceptionless. Counter to (2), there are words with final superheavy syllables that do not carry primary stress (examples are also given in Superheavy syllables in stress assignment), and counter to (3), there are words with non-final superheavy syllables.

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We can divide the set of words with irregular superheavy syllables into five general types. Some examples are given in (1); they are restricted to disyllabic words, yet some of these exceptional patterns also show up in longer words. 'SH' symbolizes a superheavy syllable, 'V' symbolizes a syllable with a full vowel, independent of whether this is an A-class or a B-class vowel.

Example 1

a. Stressed non-final SH + V: ˈSH + V
      oarloch /ˈoər.lɔx/ war
b. Stressed V + unstressed final superheavy syllable: ˈV + SH
      ambacht /ˈam.baxt/ craft
c. Stressed non-final SH + unstressed final SH: ˈSH + SH
      maarschalk /ˈma:r.skɔlk/ marshal
d. Unstressed non-final SH: SH + ˈV
      bûljon /bul.ˈjon/ broth
e. Stressed non-final SH plus schwa: ˈSH + ə
      wielde /'viəl.də/ luxury

In (1a), we find a non-final superheavy syllable; (1b) has an unstressed superheavy syllable; (1c) and (1d) violate both core principles: as (1c) has more than one superheavy syllable, there will necessarily be a non-final superheavy syllable, and one of the two syllables will not carry primary stress and (1d) has a non-final, unstressed superheavy syllable. (1e), finally, has a stressed non-final syllable, due to the fact that the final syllable contains a schwa, which cannot bear stress.

For Dutch, it has been argued in Trommelen and Zonneveld (1989) as well as in Booij (1999) that words with irregular superheavy syllables may in fact be so-called prosodic compounds: these irregular words are argued to consist of two prosodic words, although there is no detectable morphological complexity. When analyzed as consisting of two prosodic words, the phonotactic structure as well as the stress patterns of the words in (1a-1c) are entirely regular. Under this assumption, these words can be treated as compounds with regular initial stress according to the Compound Stress Rule for nouns. This rule is also operative in Frisian. Examples are given below:

Example 2

oar + loch /ˈoər.lɔx/ war
am + bacht /ˈam.baxt/ craft
maar + skalk /ˈma:r.skɔlk/ marshal

Yet the interpretation of words with irregular superheavy syllables as prosodic compounds does not work for words of the type (1d) and (1e); (rare) words like bûljonbroth show exceptional final stress, even when regarded as compounds; still, a compound analysis is generally possible, for there are nominal compounds with exceptional stress on the second constituent, such as boeresoan[buə.rə.'soən]farmer's son. As is noted for Dutch in Booij (1999), the compound analysis is not applicable in cases where the syllable following a word-internal superheavy syllable is headed by schwa, as in (1e), for schwa cannot be the only vowel of a prosodic word (each prosodic word needs to have at least one full vowel, unlike some function words).

References:
  • Booij, Geert1999The role of the prosodic word in phonotactic generalizationsHall, T. Alan & Kleinhenz, Ursula (eds.)Studies on the phonological wordAmsterdam / PhiladelphiaJohn Benjamins47-72
  • Booij, Geert1999The role of the prosodic word in phonotactic generalizationsHall, T. Alan & Kleinhenz, Ursula (eds.)Studies on the phonological wordAmsterdam / PhiladelphiaJohn Benjamins47-72
  • Trommelen, Mieke & Zonneveld, Wim1989Klemtoon en metrische fonologieMuiderbergCoutinho
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