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Chapter 4

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McGill University
LING 200
Maire Noonan

LING 200 Introduction to the Study of Language Chapter 4 SYLLABLES Functions of σ:  Regulate admissible combinations of consonants and vowels in a language  phonotactic constraints  Provide the domain for many phonological rules (e.g. stress), and many rules are sensitive to syllable structure (e.g. aspiration) Cat /kæt/ 1 syllable Lecture /lɛktʃər/  2 syllables Banana /bənænə/  3 syllables Hippopotamus /hɪpəpɑtəməs/  5 syllables The Maximal Onset Principle banana: ba.na.na Not: * ban.an.a  Onsets are favored cross-linguistically Maximal Onset Principle (universal): The consonants that fill the onset position of a syllable are those that correspond to the maximal sequence found in word-initial position in the particular language. Syllabification Rules i. Transcribe the word phonemically. ii. Nucleus/Rhyme-formation: assign Vs to nucleus; from each Nucleus, draw a line to the rhyme node and to a ! node. iii. Maximize Onset: put as many consonants as possible in the Onset of each syllable, obeying language specific phonotactic constraints. iv. Coda-formation: Assign remaining Cs to Coda; connect Coda to the Rhyme and join Onset to ! v. Word-level construction: join syllables to Wd Stress: a prominence relation  Phonetic correlates of stress: pitch contour, length and/or loudness.  The language particular rules determining where word stress falls are usually sensitive to syllabification.  Consequences of word stress in English: vowels are reduced to schwa, [ə], when unstressed, but maintained when stressed. Stress and Vowel Pronunciation in English  The big dots represent stressed syllables.  Vowels in unstressed syllables are pronounced as [ə] The English Vowel reduction rule Observation: /i ɪ e ɛ æ ɑ u ʊ o/ are permitted only in syllables bearing stress in English. English Vowel Reduction Rule: Vowel  [ ə ] when occurring in unstressed syllable Summary of syllabic phonology  Phonemes are grouped together into syllables.  The syllabification rules are universal.  Onsets are favored over codas.  What counts as a possible Onset depends on each language’s phonotactic constraints Summary: Phonology All languages:  Select an inventory of phonemes, from amongst all possible human phones  Have phonological rules that derive various allophones from the underlying phonemes.  Group segments into syllables according to universal syllabification rules. Languages vary in ...  The specific inventory of their phonemes  The specific inventory of phonological rules  The specific phonotactic constraints  The specific stress patterns (stress algorithms) Computation In Phonology Sequences of speech sounds are grouped into syllables.  Each vowel is the nucleus of the syllable.  Vowels are crucial in the construction of syllables in terms of their sounds, not their quantity.  Different syllables have their own rhythm to it. There is a ‘stress’ in every one other syllable in a word. o For natives, stress in syllables come naturally There’s a computational way or process to decide where or in which syllable the stress is located (We first separate the syllables into 'foots’; how it works 9 input + process = output) Count the vowels, and you know how many syllables there are:  Banana  Elephant  Chamomile  In words that have more than one syllable, one syllable will be most prominent: the stressed syllable. i.e. baNAna caNAdian Stress is realized on the vowels of a word, but it is traditional to attribute stress to syllables  Assume that the stress system of I-languages is rule-based  Assume that the input to the stress system is a string of syllables with no stress assigned, while the output is the same string with the correct stress pattern Two ways of getting there?  Both algorithms correctly predict the observed stress patterns.  What is amiss? Having two such different algorithms misses a generalization - namely that Maranungku is the mirror image of Weri! Algorithm 2 for Maranungku stress:  You form pairs starting from left.  The left edge of each foot is stressed.  The leftmost stress gets to be primary stress. Extensional equivalence  Both algorithms give us the same results.  Both predict the observed patterns correctly.  They are extensionally equivalent because they produce the same output How to choose?  Elegance & simplicity?  Which one is more likely to reflect the mental process that actually occurs in the mind of a Maranungku speaker? More than one grammar can generate the output of certain language speakers, but the goal of linguists is to model the system of knowledge that is actually in a person's mind Evidence from one language’s stress system should bear on the best analysis of the stress system in other languages  Languages may differ minimally in their stress systems but conform to the same general pattern The empirical base of potentially relevant data (for generating an universal I-language) is all linguistic output of all human languages  All language grammars are built from the same primitives  part of a computational system realized in a biological organism within the properties of humans Interim conclusion  Data from other languages may bear on the issue: o Pintupi supports the approach in terms of pairing syllables into feet! o Aspects of cognitive plausibility that are independently established can bear on the question (including learnability). o Investigation points towards the fact that language is hierarchically structured and that computation does not involve ”counting” (a highly conscious process, contrary to subtilizing.) Extensional Equivalence Two algorithms that produce the same outputs are extensionally equivalent  If I-language are properties of individual minds, then there should be a correct answer is the true grammar of a certain language, even if several grammars can generate the same output  Humans are born with the capacity to learn any human (stress) system, but experience, the data a child is exposed to, determines which system is encoded in the learner's mind Our goal should be to discover a single set of primitives of representation and computation that can generate all the (stress) systems we observe Artificial intelligence: concerned with simulating human behavior Cognitive intelligence: concerned with discovering what will generate human behavior Subitizing: the act of abstracting knowing numbers (which is more, less, the immediate perception of number) but not actually counting  Therefore, when figuring our stress systems, it is not useful to use the numbering system vs. the grouping system because the numbers will go fairly high Grouping process is part of an algorithm in syntax, morphological reduplication, and in the phonology of stress in various languages  Targeted syllables may receive stress, or may be repeated  Some variability in grouping; starts in the beginning of the word/end of word etc.  Grouping equivalence classes together (eg. syllables) and use of computation (grouping of two elements)  similarities in a variety of languages  Internalistic approach assures that there is a correct answer since language begins in the brain of an individual ______________________________________________________________________ Non-lnternalist Approaches Some people believe that there is a perfect language that exists out there somewhere (people meaning linguists)  Other linguists also believe that millions of people consider themselves the speaker of one language, and that is correct External language: believes that a language is a collection of data, or a corpus (like a collection of utterances in a specific language) E—language: is an attempt to come up with a formal characterization of language  The corpus is often a collection of utterances produced by several speakers Newspapers represent the output of many individuals, and so you can't guarantee that a set of data can be modeled by a single grammar that corresponds to a possible humanly attainable language  A single person can generate output that corresponds to multiple grammars i.e. bilingual person Difference between E-language and I-language is the fact that I-language is rooted in biology  E—language only cares about the rules that can correctly generate the data  I-language teases apart the rules that can generate a corpus and the rules that can underlie any corpus  E—language only looks at the external factors to determine what the rules are to generate a corpus This concept sees language as independent of any psychological states of ind
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