Article in:The Syllable and its Prosody in Chinese
Edited by Lian-Hee Wee, Feng Wang and Yuan Liang
[Language and Linguistics 23:1] 2022
► pp. 82–115
Melodic-prosodic duality of the syllable
An application to Chinese
Implicit in all current theories of the syllable is some assumption of the internal configuration. Prevalent among these are the onset-rime (OR) and the moraic (μ) models, both supported by rather different types of evidence. The OR model favors an interpretation where [ p. 83 ]constituency is exhaustive until the level of the segment which itself is a temporal unit with which melodic features associate. The μ-model distinguishes only what is non-moraic from what is moraic so that sub-syllabic constituency is an accidental result of projecting to/from the same mora. This paper postulates a more fundamental segment-melody complex that projects into two different dimensions: melody and prosody, thus capturing the insights of both the OR and μ-models through the separation of constituency issues with prosodic ones. This approach has direct applications in figuring out two long-standing conundrums in Chinese: the status of the medial glide and the prosodic properties of tonelessness. The segment-melody complex also predicts mismatches in moraicity and syllabicity as well as the mediating effect of the skeletal slots between the melodic root nodes and their moraic status.
Keywords: syllable, mora, foot, segment, feature, prosody
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