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Sonority Sequencing Violations and Prosodic Structure in Latin and Other Indo-European Languages

Indo-European Linguistics



Latin, phonotactics, prosody, reduplication, phonology, Optimality Theory

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Attention has been paid of late to syllable structure in ancient Indo-European languages, e.g. Sanskrit (Kobayashi, 2004), Latin (Marotta, 1999), Greek (Zukoff, 2012), Anatolian (Kavitskaya, 2001), and general Indo-European (Byrd, 2010; Keydana, 2012). There is little agreement in the field about some of the more difficult cases, most of which involve both word-initial and medial clusters that violate the Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP), particularly sibilant-stop clusters. Because sibilants are more sonorous than stops, [STV-] σ onsets to roots such as *steh2- require special consideration. I will argue that there are three types of evidence we can and should employ in attempting to diagnose syllable structure in ancient languages: metrical, phonological, and morphological. I will apply all three to Latin forms, showing that in Pre-Literary Latin, sibilant-stop clusters formed true onsets, as Byrd (2010) has argued for Proto-Indo-European, but that by the Classical period these SSP-violating clusters were no longer licensed as onsets. In such sequences, Classical Latin allowed only [t] in the onset, while the [s] formed a coda in medial position and was housed extraprosodically in word-initial position. The various treatments of ST-sequences in Latin and other Indo-European languages, especially PIE, Sanskrit, and Gothic, will be modeled in Optimality Theory using constraints on phonotactics and extraprosodicity.

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Most cited references 3

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Gestural coordination of Italian word-initial clusters the case of ‘impure s’

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Temporal Organization of Complex Onsets and Codas in American English Testing the Predictions of a Gestural Coupling Model

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The temporal organization of complex onsets and codas in Romanian A gestural approach

Author and article information

University of California, Los Angeles, CA
University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Indo-European Linguistics
Brill (The Netherlands)
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Copyright 2015 by Jessica DeLisi

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) License.

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