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Moraic codas [was Re: 'Yemls Morphology]

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 11, 2001, 0:32
Muke Tever wrote:

> From: "Thomas R. Wier" <artabanos@...> > > (some coda consonants were moraic, others weren't; which isn't that > > unusual, cf. Turkish) > > How does this work?
Well, there are several different ways that stress languages can allocate stress to phonological words. Some languages use the syllable (symbolized in the literature by a sigma), while many, perhaps most, languages use the mora. What is a mora? A mora is basically a timing-unit, a measure of the perceived amount of time taken to articulate different sounds. Moras (sometimes the latinate plural "morae" is also used) are, generally speaking, phonological, not phonetic -- that is to say, moras are defined in the input, and are not simply an acoustic property of long or short sounds; that is a necessary though insufficient condition for them. One result of that fact is that different languages can assign different moraicities to different types of sounds in the underlying representations of words. While all languages give vowels at least one mora a piece, some languages also assign moraic status to coda consonants. One of the reasons for believing moraic theory is that it can predict in a unified fashion why stress systems in different languages operate the way they do. For example, the stressing rule in Latin is classically given as "if the second-to-last (penultimate) syllable is long, it receives the accent; otherwise, accent the third-to-last (antepenult)". If we look at this in terms of the moraic distribution, it is much simpler: the last syllable is extrametrical (does not take part in foot structure, and thus never gets an accent), and always accent the syllable two moras from the right edge of the word. Put more simply, accent the rightmost foot. E.g. /ami:cus/ µ (µµ) µµ | |/ |/ a.mí:.<cus> 'friend' => [i:] gets the accent ("<>" represent extrametrical syllables; "µ" (mu) is the formal symbol for a mora) /agricola/ µ (µ µ) µ | | | | a.grí.co.<la> 'farmer' => [i] gets the accent (N.B.: onset consonants for some reason never get interpreted as being moraic) Now, as I said, in some languages, coda consonants (consonants that form the tail-end of syllables, after the vocalic nucleus) can be moraic or not. In most such languages where they are, all codas are moraic. So, e.g. in Latin, you have /ornamentum/ µµ µ (µµ) µµ |/ | |/ |/én.<tum> 'ornament' => [e] gets the accent where the coda in the syllable "men" forces the foot to be monosyllabic and to attract the stress. Another result of a language having moraic codas is that geminate consonants often arise: µµµ µµ µ 'to be' | | | => | |\ | => /ese/ es. e Here, in other words, the requirement for the following syllable to have an onset (initial) consonant forces the moraic /s/ to 'bleed' over into the next syllable, providing a geminate. Now, if you've been patient enough to go through all that background information, on to idiosyncratic moraicity. Some languages do essentially the same as the above things -- they have geminate consonants, or their stresses seem to be affected by coda weight -- but it doesn't seem to work for all words in the language. Thus, phonologists believe that in such languages, the mora just does not follow a simple rule. This is not as strange as it may sound, however, because if we remember that moras are always defined beforehand in the underlying representation, that means they are also by virtue of that fact in a theoretical sense somewhat arbitrary. That is, even though moras usually do associate to certain of the types of sounds (vowels in particular), such a mapping of mora to segment is at best only partially predictable on acoustic grounds. Any type of sound can, theoretically speaking, be linked to a mora in the underlying representation. I hope (vainly?) that I have been clear in my explanation. I wish I had the handout from class with the data from Turkish to show you -- it got mixed up somewhere in the move from Austin to Houston. I promise to post it if I can ever find it. =================================== Thomas Wier | AIM: trwier "Aspidi men Saiôn tis agalletai, hên para thamnôi entos amômêton kallipon ouk ethelôn; autos d' exephugon thanatou telos: aspis ekeinê erretô; exautês ktêsomai ou kakiô" - Arkhilokhos


Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>