OT: Phonology [was: interesting SIL-document]

From: John Burger (john@mitre.org)
Date: Wed Feb 04 2004 - 10:59:09 EST

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    John Cowan wrote:

    > Fair enough; but hang-er, sing-ing *is* the conventional analysis.
    > English, generally speaking, defies the convention of preferring
    > onsets to codas.

    My understanding is that, generally, English does not, in fact, defy
    this convention, known as the Onset Maximization Principle. Those two
    examples just happen to involve the consonant "ng", which is never
    syllable-initial in English.

    Of "be-f***ing-hind", etc., Peter Kirk wrote:

    > It doesn't work to add that other word in this case because it already
    > ends in ng; and anyway that word tends to go where there is a morpheme
    > break, because it is a syntactical rather than a phonetic phenomenon.

    This phenomenon is known as Expletive Infixation and is in fact a
    phonological phenomenon, I believe. Expletives seem to be insertable
    only between metrical feet (the foot is a phonological unit of
    structure in between the syllable and word levels). A common example
    is "fan-bloody-tastic". This is actually observed among English
    speakers, while "fantas-bloody-tic" is not. (Google for both, and
    you'll only find the latter as a counter-example in a few morphology

    I actually don't think anyone would really say "be-f***ing-hind" - it
    doesn't sound that natural to me. And, in fact, there is no foot
    boundary there. English has very few words with two syllables and two
    feet. My linguist friend supplies me with one example, "Aztec", which
    does indeed seem more susceptible to Expletive Infixation than "behind".

    - John Burger

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