OT: Syllable structure in Georgian (was Re: sorta OT: cases, please help...)
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>|
|Date:||Friday, December 7, 2001, 6:30|
Quoting laokou <laokou@...>:
> From: "Thomas R. Wier"
> > Speaking of syllable structure, is there any language out there that
> > beats Georgian's EIGHT consonants in an onset?
> > gvprckvnis = "He is fleecing"
> Okay, I'll bite. How is this pronounced? Is "r" vocalic? Minimal
The short answer is: there's no real professional data to
answer that question. What seems clear is that when /v/
follows consonants in onsets, its only function appears to
be to labialize them, having no strong realization itself.
I suspect that the other main peak of sonority in the "onset",
the /r/, which is IIRC a uvular trill, probably functions,
in effect, as a syllable nucleus. This would make my
question a trick question, I suppose.
One of the problems with answering this question is that
nobody (and I mean, nobody) really knows what a syllable is.
There are lots of good guesses, like the aforementioned
sonority criterion. You can make a neat looking hierarchy
with sounds higher on the hierarchy more likely to be a
syllable nucleus. The Big Problem with this theory is
that semivowels are *defined* by not being syllable
nuclei: they're just like vowels, except, well, not. If it
worked, though (OB: CONLANG), then you could set your
syllable structure to allow syllable nuclei peaks at
anywhere higher than, say, fricatives. Bella Coola e.g.
has a word [sXs], whose meaning I forget.
The theory that my phonetics professor espouses (in his
more whimsical moments, which are legion), is that a syllable
is basically what you want it to be -- i.e., syllables are
phonological, not phonetic, targets. That explains why
you can find minimal pairs that are distinguished only by
the number of syllables:
hire : [haI(r] (where /r/ is an alveolar glide)
higher : [haI(r=]
Most triphthongs, then, would presumably be cases where the
people find it useful not to syllabify a word in a given way.
> Are we in the realm of Eskimo snow words?
No, I've heard it pronounced!
Thomas Wier <trwier@...> <http://home.uchicago.edu/~trwier>
"...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