Vol. 16:2 (1992) ► pp.421–441
Sound Change, Preferences, and Explanation
A Response to Picard
Based on data from Romance historical phonology, Picard (1990) attempts to demonstrate that the preference theory for syllable structure developed in Vennemann (1988a), Murray (1988), and elsewhere is inadequate. In this response, I argue that Picard's criticisms are vitiated by a number of flaws including a) the fact that he misconstrues basic concepts of preference theory in a number of cases and accordingly develops false extensions which have little relevance to the original theory and b) that his criticism of consonantal strength does not take into consideration different theoretical frameworks. Although some substantive points remain including the status of sibilant plus plosive clusters, the internal structuring of syllables, and Proto-Romance syllabication, I argue that preference theory provides a suitable basis for the fruitful development of research along these lines.