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Re: Syllabemes, and Underspecification

From:And Rosta <a-rosta@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 21, 2002, 19:42
> Tom Wier: > >> Quoting And Rosta <a-rosta@...>: > >> > >> > The Livagian script has one character per 'syllabeme' (approximately > >> > = syllable), plus further characters representing sequences of more > >> > than one syllabeme, which serve to increase written brevity and to > >> > exploit the greater ability of scripts (compared to phonology) to > >> > sustain contrasts. The syllabeme is the minimal combinatorially > >> > unrestricted unit of Livagian phonology. The Livagian script > >> > contains thousands of characters, though, so is motivated more > >> > by principle than by practical considerations. > >> > >> So, is a "syllabeme" something like syllabification already > >> present in underlying representation? > > > >So on the whole I'd say you guessed right. > > If you're interested in issues like this, I suggest finding a > copy (probably from your local university or from the Rutgers > Optimality Archive) of Sharon Inkelas's article "The Consequences > for Optimization of Underspecification". Therein she discusses > the question of whether prosodic structure should be specified > at the level of UR.
Thanks. As you may have noticed from my postings to the list over the years, I am interested in phonology. But in my conlanging I make a very strict distinction between the description that defines the language (that defines what is and isn't well-formed -- the 'facts' of the language) and description/analysis that is insightful/ 'explanatory'. Since there are many possible analyses that are consistent with the facts, I tend to avoid venturing analyses. An example of this is that I insist on defining elaborate but finite morphological paradigms by listing alone, even though the analyst could quickly come up with a set of rules to generate all the forms, and even though in inventing the forms I start by inventing the rules. Partly my practise is an attempt to be rigorous about the distinction between inventing/defining a language, which is what conlangers do, and describing a language, which is what linguisticians do. I fully recognize that these two are easily conflatable, though. --And.