Syllable Structure

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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby spanick » Thu 03 Nov 2011 5:33 am

^well said
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby Emma » Thu 03 Nov 2011 6:25 am

@linguoboy:

You still seem confused about syllable structure. CVCVC isn't one syllable, it's two. There are two sonority peaks ("V"), two onsets, but only one coda. So they both fit the pattern of (C)V(C).


*firstly, I feel I must clear myself up. :oops: I had actually meant to write "(C)(C)V(C)" when I said "CVCVC" before, but I goofed lol*

The confusion seems to be one of levels. You have an underlying form which is /skal/ and a surface form which is /Vskal/. In between, there is an adjustment rule which is motivated by a desire to have surface forms conform to a (C)V(C) syllable structure.

Secondly; this is an example that I want to use to see if I understand you better with these "levels" and "forms". I'll use a Halloween themed example. :P

A Halloween party is going on where everyone must were a skeleton mask (surface form; /Vskal/) over their *normal* faces (underlying form; /skal/) to conform to the Halloween party's rule (adjustment rule for the (C)V(C) SS).

Why have two levels? Because it should make writing morphological rules easier down the road. Say you have an inflectional prefix |e-| and you want to add it to oskal and get eskal rather than *eoskal (or whatever) even though that's not how it works with other vowel-initial words. In that case, you just order your rules so epenthesis applies at the very end, after all the prefixes and suffixes have been added.

That's ultimately up to you. As I mentioned before, you could have different epenthetic vowels in different circumstances. Maybe you have progressive vowel harmony so adding /ren/ to /skal/ gives you /reneskel/. Maybe the link vowel is determined by the inflectional class of /ren/.


I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by the italicized part. :oops:

@Alex:

Don't worry, I take breaks! I wanna learn so I can help you *and others* and create languages too. Its been fun for what I've managed to create thus far, so I don't want to give up! :mrgreen:
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby linguoboy » Thu 03 Nov 2011 4:11 pm

Emma wrote:
Why have two levels? Because it should make writing morphological rules easier down the road. Say you have an inflectional prefix |e-| and you want to add it to oskal and get eskal rather than *eoskal (or whatever) even though that's not how it works with other vowel-initial words. In that case, you just order your rules so epenthesis applies at the very end, after all the prefixes and suffixes have been added.

It's easier to illustrate with examples.

Let's take two German words, ['tʰaːkʰ] "day" and ['ʃpaːtʰ] "spar [a kind of mineral]". Both of these take the plural ending |ə|, but although the plural of [ʃpaːtʰ] is ['ʃpaːtʰə], the plural of ['tʰaːkʰ] isn't *['tʰaːkʰə]. Instead, it's ['tʰaːgə]. How do you deal with an ending that voices some stops but not others?

Well, if you notice that voiced stops (e.g. [g], [d], etc.) never occur in final position in German, then you can write a final devoicing rule. Your underlying forms can have voiced stops in this position but then a phonological rule replaces them with voiceless stops whenever they aren't followed by a vowel.

So then the underlying forms of the word ['tʰaːkʰ] is not */taːk/, since this predicts a plural form *['tʰaːkʰə] which doesn't exist. t's /taːg/. If you apply the final devoicing rule to it, you still get the correct singular form. But if you add the plural ending |ə|, then the rule doesn't apply and you get the correct plural form, ['tʰaːgə].

Your epenthesis rule is like this final devoicing rule. You want your surface forms to have the same sort of phonetic shape, but you want to have more options when you create your word roots. The way it will become clear that this is what you are doing is through alternations like these.

Let me try another example with your made-up words. You had one that was /hena/, right? What happens when you add it to /skal/? You get /henaskal/ because the /s/ has a vowel in front of it so the segmentation of the word is CV.CVC.CVC. All syllables fit the (C)V(C) pattern, so your rule of epenthesis doesn't apply.

This is potentially different than what happens with /ren/ + /skal/. Say you decide to use /o/ as your default epenthetic vowel. Then putting these together gives you /renoskal/. The segmentation is the same, but now the middle syllable is /nos/ instead of /nas/. Why the difference? Because there is no middle vowel in the underlying form; it's only supplied when needed.
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby Emma » Fri 04 Nov 2011 12:23 am

It's easier to illustrate with examples.

Let's take two German words, ['tʰaːkʰ] "day" and ['ʃpaːtʰ] "spar [a kind of mineral]". Both of these take the plural ending |ə|, but although the plural of [ʃpaːtʰ] is ['ʃpaːtʰə], the plural of ['tʰaːkʰ] isn't *['tʰaːkʰə]. Instead, it's ['tʰaːgə]. How do you deal with an ending that voices some stops but not others?

Well, if you notice that voiced stops (e.g. [g], [d], etc.) never occur in final position in German, then you can write a final devoicing rule. Your underlying forms can have voiced stops in this position but then a phonological rule replaces them with voiceless stops whenever they aren't followed by a vowel.

So then the underlying forms of the word ['tʰaːkʰ] is not */taːk/, since this predicts a plural form *['tʰaːkʰə] which doesn't exist. t's /taːg/. If you apply the final devoicing rule to it, you still get the correct singular form. But if you add the plural ending |ə|, then the rule doesn't apply and you get the correct plural form, ['tʰaːgə].

I think I understand, so here it goes: :oops:

So this final devoicing rule is like my epenthesis rule; it is applied when it needs to be. In the devoicing rule, its because German words cannot end in voiced stops -- unless followed by a vowel -- and are shifted into voiceless stops instead?

Your epenthesis rule is like this final devoicing rule. You want your surface forms to have the same sort of phonetic shape, but you want to have more options when you create your word roots. The way it will become clear that this is what you are doing is through alternations like these.

Let me try another example with your made-up words. You had one that was /hena/, right? What happens when you add it to /skal/? You get /henaskal/ because the /s/ has a vowel in front of it so the segmentation of the word is CV.CVC.CVC. All syllables fit the (C)V(C) pattern, so your rule of epenthesis doesn't apply.

This is potentially different than what happens with /ren/ + /skal/. Say you decide to use /o/ as your default epenthetic vowel. Then putting these together gives you /renoskal/. The segmentation is the same, but now the middle syllable is /nos/ instead of /nas/. Why the difference? Because there is no middle vowel in the underlying form; it's only supplied when needed.


Because /henaskal/ would be acceptable for my syllable structure because a vowel is present before the /s/ so the epenthesis rule is not needed. But without a vowel before the /s/, the epenthesis rule is applied in order to make the /skal/ compatibility with my syllable structure by making it /Vskal/. Correct? :oops:
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby linguoboy » Fri 04 Nov 2011 4:27 am

Emma wrote:Because /henaskal/ would be acceptable for my syllable structure because a vowel is present before the /s/ so the epenthesis rule is not needed. But without a vowel before the /s/, the epenthesis rule is applied in order to make the /skal/ compatibility with my syllable structure by making it /Vskal/. Correct? :oops:

You've got it!

Another question is whether you have sandhi in your language. That is, when it comes to these sorts of rules, are words handled in isolation or are they lumped into breath groups or phrases first? That is, say you have a sentence with the underlying form /kumpa rko hena skal/. Can this be re-segmented across word boundaries so no epenthesis is necessary or will the surface form end up being /kumpa orko hena oskal/?
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby Emma » Fri 04 Nov 2011 5:23 am

You've got it!

Another question is whether you have sandhi in your language. That is, when it comes to these sorts of rules, are words handled in isolation or are they lumped into breath groups or phrases first? That is, say you have a sentence with the underlying form /kumpa rko hena skal/. Can this be re-segmented across word boundaries so no epenthesis is necessary or will the surface form end up being /kumpa orko hena oskal/?

Yes! Finally! :mrgreen: I'm gonna write it all down on notes so I can read again and won't forget. :lol:

What exactly do you mean...? *I've never heard of Sandhi before. :oops:

*in your example sentence, I would certainly want the surface form over the underlying form though, if I understood it all right.*
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby linguoboy » Fri 04 Nov 2011 4:36 pm

Emma wrote:What exactly do you mean...? *I've never heard of Sandhi before.

You may know it under a different name. French liaison, for instance, is a type of sandhi. So is English linking/intrusive r.

Emma wrote:*in your example sentence, I would certainly want the surface form over the underlying form though, if I understood it all right.*

So the epenthesis rule operates on the level of individual words, not anything longer than that.

As long as we're on the subject, have you given any thought about how your language will deal with hiatus? Since the (surface) syllable structure is (C)V(C), clearly you need some way of dealing with cases of underlying /(C)VV(C)/. You could have an epenthesis rule, like you do for consonants, or you could have a deletion rule. And some languages have complex rules for vowel contraction.
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby Emma » Fri 04 Nov 2011 9:10 pm

You may know it under a different name. French liaison, for instance, is a type of sandhi. So is English linking/intrusive r.

So sandhi is when consonants are there, but are not pronounced...? *reading over the links a few more times now*


So the epenthesis rule operates on the level of individual words, not anything longer than that.

If it didn't just operate on the level of individual words, what else could the epenthesis rule do...?


As long as we're on the subject, have you given any thought about how your language will deal with hiatus? Since the (surface) syllable structure is (C)V(C), clearly you need some way of dealing with cases of underlying /(C)VV(C)/. You could have an epenthesis rule, like you do for consonants, or you could have a deletion rule. And some languages have complex rules for vowel contraction.

I was under the impression -- as I was told -- a stand alone *V in syllable structure could also stand for diphthongs as well. :(
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby linguoboy » Fri 04 Nov 2011 9:25 pm

Emma wrote:
You may know it under a different name. French liaison, for instance, is a type of sandhi. So is English linking/intrusive r.

So sandhi is when consonants are there, but are not pronounced...? *reading over the links a few more times now*

That's one form of sandhi; there are others. The gorgia toscana, for instance, which is a kind of phonologically-conditioned lenition.

Emma wrote:
So the epenthesis rule operates on the level of individual words, not anything longer than that.

If it didn't just operate on the level of individual words, what else could the epenthesis rule do...?

As I said, it could operate on the level of the phrase or breath group. That is, a closely-connected group of words could be treated as a single word for the purposes of applying the epenthesis rule.

French works this way. It has a deletion rule which eliminates /ə/ whenever this doesn't lead to impermissible clusters. So le petit ours "the little bear" is resegmented to /ləpti(t)urs/ but sept petits ours doesn't become */sɛtpti(z)urs/ because */tpt/ isn't an allowable cluster in French. So, as you can see, the word /pətit/ can surface as /pətit/, /ptit/, /pəti/, and /pti/ depending on what other words come before and after it. There are rules which delete the first vowel and the last consonant, but only when certain phonetic circumstances are present.

Emma wrote:I was under the impression -- as I was told -- a stand alone *V in syllable structure could also stand for diphthongs as well. :(

Diphthong formation is subsumed under "vowel contraction". But, again, this needs to be specified. So what happens when /hena/ and /skal/ come together not as a compound but as neighbouring words in a phrase?
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Re: Syllable Structure

Postby Emma » Sat 05 Nov 2011 3:23 am

That's one form of sandhi; there are others. The gorgia toscana, for instance, which is a kind of phonologically-conditioned lenition.

As I said, it could operate on the level of the phrase or breath group. That is, a closely-connected group of words could be treated as a single word for the purposes of applying the epenthesis rule.

French works this way. It has a deletion rule which eliminates /ə/ whenever this doesn't lead to impermissible clusters. So le petit ours "the little bear" is resegmented to /ləpti(t)urs/ but sept petits ours doesn't become */sɛtpti(z)urs/ because */tpt/ isn't an allowable cluster in French. So, as you can see, the word /pətit/ can surface as /pətit/, /ptit/, /pəti/, and /pti/ depending on what other words come before and after it. There are rules which delete the first vowel and the last consonant, but only when certain phonetic circumstances are present.


Sorry this is late, I had some things to take care of today. I will read over that link right now *with the others*. :D

I'm not sure I understand the French deletion rule. Image

Diphthong formation is subsumed under "vowel contraction". But, again, this needs to be specified. So what happens when /hena/ and /skal/ come together not as a compound but as neighbouring words in a phrase?

*couldn't find wiki article on "vowel contraction* :(

You mean like "hena Vskal"? Is that *hena ends in a vowel and *Vskal starts with a vowel that has become a problem..?
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