chapter  11
23 Pages

Between the segment and the syllable

In this chapter we will consider the way in which segments are organized into syllables. The syllable dominates the segments only indirectly. That is, between the syllable and the segment a further level of structure is commonly assumed. One view of this intermediate level of structure is that of the CV tier. Two of the roles this tier is required to fulfil are first, the representation of segmental duration and second, the designation of the syllabicity of the segment, i.e. whether it occurs in the peak or, alternatively, in the onset or coda. In a sense, then, the topic of Chapter 10 is continued, but instead of tone we now consider segmental duration as a candidate for autosegmental representation. The arguments for the CV tier will be reviewed and illustrated in section 11.4. There is, however, an alternative representation for these aspects of phonological structure. One reason for including the syllable in phonological structure is that it forms the domain to which stress is assigned: it is the structural element that can be either stressed or unstressed. In many languages the ‘stressability’ of a syllable appears to be influenced by the contents of its rhyme: broadly speaking, single (short) vowels behave differently from other syllables. Accordingly, the mora is taken to be the intermediate level of structure that allows the distinction between such light (or monomoraic) and heavy (or bimoraic) syllables to be expressed. It is generally seen as a representation that makes the CV tier superfluous, the idea being that all the roles that have been claimed for it can be fulfilled by other aspects in the phonological representation.