Weight-by-Position by Position

Research paper by Sam Rosenthall, Harry van der Hulst

Indexed on: 01 Aug '99Published on: 01 Aug '99Published in: Natural Language & Linguistic Theory


This paper proposes an Optimality-Theoretic (Prince and Smolensky 1993) account of variable closed syllable weight. It is shown here that contextually-dependent weight, as Hayes (1994) calls it, is a consequence of simultaneously comparing monomoraic and bimoraic parses of closed syllables for constraint satisfaction. The weight of closed syllables is a consequence of constraint interaction that determines the moraicity of coda consonants. These constraints are shown to conflict with higher ranking metrical constraints leading to contextually-dependent weight.Two types of constraint interaction are discussed here: (1) closed syllables are light, but contextually heavy to satisfy some higher ranking constraint and (2) closed syllables are heavy, but are contextually light for the same reason. The behavior of closed syllables with respect to the constraint hierarchy is contrasted with the behavior of vowels in the same context. The independent behavior of long vowels and closed syllables is shown here to follow from the different Correspondence constraints (McCarthy and Prince 1995) that determine the weight of vowels and closed syllables.