DescriptionPublished as Coyote Papers: Working Papers in Linguistics from A-Z
AbstractThe interaction between the syllabification and the footing of a word is a very interdependent one. It has generally been thought that syllables are built from segments and feet are built from syllables. So, the foot structure of a word is dependent on its syllable structure. In turn, since stress is assigned through feet, syllables not only affect a word's feet-they affect it's stress pattern. What would happen, then, if a word was syllabified incorrectly? Undoubtedly, this could alter the representation of the word's footing. Stress assignment would then be affected resulting in a possibly ungrammatical representation of the word. Any theory that describes the syllabification and footing processes of a language must make sure that ungrammatical representations are not generated. In this paper, I will describe the syncopation process in English in terms of syllabification and footing. Here, 'syncopated' refers to words that have had a medial vowel deleted (postlexically) from them resulting in shorter words.1 I will only consider words in which the vowel is deleted in casual speech (from careful speech forms) as opposed to words whose vowels are deleted as a result of morphological affixation. For example, the word "separate" is [sEpərət] in careful speech, but [sEprət] in casual and fast speech. In the first part of the paper, I will show that syllabification of these forms follows a rule that is similar, but not equal, to the rule that applies to unsyncopated forms. This rule focuses on the consonant clusters that are created by the medial vowel deletion. While governed by some version of the sonority hierarchy, the consonants that can make up the syncopated clusters can combine more freely than their underlying counterparts. However, as a result of this syllabification process, the footing of these words is altered. I begin this discussion by laying out the syncope facts of English and focusing on their stress and segmental environments (sections 2.1-2.2). Then, I will describe the sonority relationships between the medial consonants (sections 3.1-3.3). I will then present my first claim - that syllabification as a result of derivation,2 applies differently than that of syllabification on underived forms (section 3.4). The second half of this paper deals with the footing of the syncopated words. According to Prince's (1990) theory of Rhythmic Harmony, the feet created by syncopation are much "worse" than the feet of the careful speech forms of the words. This judgement is based on his idea that there are "Optimal" forms of certain linguistic structures, such as syllables and feet. He also claims that languages will "repair" these structures in order to preserve or strive for the Optimal forms. Here, I will show that syncopated forms of English do, in fact, repair their syllable structures in order to maintain more stable foot structures. As a result of this, the stress patterns of the words are preserved. I will begin this part of the discussion with a review of foot structure and Prince's theory (sections 4. -4.2) Then, I will show that the syncopated forms syllabically repair themselves to create the "best" forms of feet possible (section 4.3).