When Phonotactic Constraints are Not Enough
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Phonotactic constraints are not sufficiently strong to produce a unique syllabification in all cases. For example, in words like western, winter, water, veto, divinity, and so forth, phonotactic constraints do not tell us which way the /t/ will attach. Most theories of syllable structure invoke “tie-breaking principles” for words such as these. Two very common “tie-breaking principles” are The Maximize Onset Principle and Stress Resyllabification. By the first principle, there is a preference toward assigning consonants to the onset of the following syllable rather than than the coda of the previous syllable. Thus, for example, the /t/ in retire will be assigned to the onset of the second syllable (i.e., rě-tire) and not to the coda of the first syllable (i.e., *rět-ire). By the second principle, there is a preference toward assigning consonants to a stressed syllable over an unstressed one. Thus, for example, the /k/ in record will be assigned to the first syllable when it is stressed (i.e., réc-órd), and to the second syllable when it is stressed (i.e., rě-córd).
KeywordsStress Pattern Primary Stress Syllable Structure Stressed Syllable Syllable Boundary
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