The split margin approach to syllable structure


  • Karen Baertsch
  • Stuart Davis



In this paper we focus on the similarities tying together the second segment of an onset cluster and a singleton coda segment. We offer a proposal based on Baertsch (2002) accounting for this similarity and show how it captures a number of observations which have defied previous explanation. In accounting for the similarity of patterning between the second member of an onset and a coda consonant, we propose to augment Prince & Smolensky's (P&S, 1993/2002) Margin Hierarchy so as to distinguish between structural positions that prefer low sonority and those that prefer high sonority. P&S's Margin Hierarchy, which gives preference to segments of low sonority, applies to singleton onsets; this is our M1 hierarchy. Our proposed M2 hierarchy applies both to the second member of an onset and to a singleton coda. The M2 hierarchy differs from the M1 hierarchy in giving preference to consonants of high sonority. Splitting the Margin Hierarchy into the M1 and M2 hierarchies allows us to explain typological, phonotactic, and acquisitional observations that have defied previous explanation. In Section 2 of this paper, we briefly provide background on the links that tie together the second member of an onset and a singleton coda. In Section 3, we review P&S's Margin Hierarchy, showing that it becomes problematic when extended to coda consonants. We then offer our proposal for a split margin hierarchy. Section 4 extends the split margin approach to complex onsets. We then show how it is able to account for various typological, phonotactic, and acquisitional observations. In Section 5, we will conclude the paper by briefly sketching how the split margin approach enables us to analyze syllable contact phenomena without requiring a specific syllable contact constraint (or additional hierarchy) or reference to an external sonority scale.






Baertsch, Karen, und Stuart Davis. 2003. „The Split Margin Approach to Syllable Structure“. ZAS Papers in Linguistics 32 (Januar):1-14.