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Re: USAGE: writ [was Re: Here, *Here*, and There, *There*]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, June 30, 2002, 23:13
Quoting agricola <agricola@...>:

> yscreus il Th. Weir:
It's <Wier>.
> >Quoting agricola <agricola@...>: > > > >> Also, it'd be pronounced /wrItiN/. :) > > > What? In all my experience, a <writ> (as in "of habeas corpus") has > > always been [rIt]; the onset cluster [wr] is complete disallowed for > > me, not surprisingly, since it flagrantly violates sonority contour > > principles. > > Different strokes for different blokes. Are you one of those [hw]less > people, too?
No, I do have [w_0]. Don't get me wrong: I'm not condemning your usage, but I'm rather shocked because I was under the impression that the onset cluster [wr] had died out in just about every English dialect... oh, over 800 years ago.
> Wot's a "sonority contour principle"? And how does it apply in this > case?
All sounds can be arranged along a "sonority hierarchy" according to how loud they are relative to other sounds with the same length, stress and pitch. This hierarchy is usually represented schematically something like this: MORE SONORITY vowels glides/semivowels liquids nasals stops - voiced - voiceless LESS SONORITY (In fact, voicelessness is always less sonorous than voicedness.) There is a very strong crosslinguistic tendency to have peaks of sonority at the syllable nucleus (namely, the vowel in most languages), having sonority fall off to either side. Languages can and do violate this principle, but usually only when there is some other demonstrable principle with which this one is in conflict (epenthesis, deletion, etc.). Also, many languages go further and prescribe how quickly this fall-off may occur. In English, onset clusters need to be at least two spaces distant from the first of the cluster to the second, such that [kr] and [ny] are licit onset clusters, but *[pt], *[pn] and *[nl] are not. In the case of [wr], there is no distance at all (although historically <r> was a trill), which is why I'm surprised that you would have it. The other structure that you mention, [w_0], is only the voiceless version of [w]. Voiceless glides are also, for entirely separate reasons, marked structures, and so it is not surprising that historically many languages have gotten rid of them. In fact, the only Germanic language IIRC that retains them is English, and at that only some dialects, mainly in parts of North America, Scotland and parts of rural England. ===================================================================== Thomas Wier "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n / Dept. of Linguistics mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..." University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought / 1010 E. 59th Street and not complete one road that has no turn" Chicago, IL 60637 Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers


Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>