"In this book, Richard Kern explores how technology matters to language and the ways in which we use it. Kern reveals how material, social and individual resources interact in the design of textual meaning, and how that interaction plays out across contexts of communication, different situations of technological mediation, and different moments in time."
EDITORS: Charles E. Cairns and Eric Raimy TITLE: Handbook of the Syllable SERIES TITLE: Brill’s Handbooks in Linguistics PUBLISHER: Brill YEAR: 2011
Christopher R. Green, University of Maryland, Center for Advanced Study of Language
The Handbook of the Syllable contains 17 chapters written by some of the world’s leading phonologists and psycholinguists, devoted to tackling a variety of concerns and challenges presented by the syllable. Chapters are divided into two sections, ‘the syllable in grammar’ and ‘the syllable in performance’. Within these sections, the offerings span an array of topics, both theoretical and experimental. Following an editors’ introduction, Chapters 2 through 6 are ‘the syllable in grammar’. The remainder of the volume is devoted to ‘the syllable in performance’ with subsections for ‘Song and Metrics’, ‘Speech Production and Articulation’, ‘Speech Perception and Experimental Manipulation’, ‘Orthography’, and ‘Diachrony’. Cairns and Raimy explain that the volume is meant to speak to theoretical, empirical, and methodological concerns surrounding the syllable. Indeed, many chapters approach these concerns by offering unique and intriguing evidence either for or against the syllable as a viable and identifiable prosodic constituent. The editors provide background on the construct of the syllable, the controversy surrounding its definition as a unit, and a brief history of research.
CHAPTER 2 - Compensatory lengthening - Paul Kiparsky
Chapter 2 discusses longstanding controversies over the representation and analysis of compensatory lengthening (CL) in constraint-based phonological frameworks, e.g. Classic Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004), Optimality Theory with Candidate Chains (McCarthy 2007), among others, and argues that the phenomenon is more successfully addressed in a Stratal Optimality Theory (SOT) approach. Kiparsky explores four “core theoretical issues” that arise in CL, namely its actuation, realization of resulting length, distinctiveness of weight, and triggers. While Kiparsky admits that the ‘actuation’ problem cannot be satisfactorily addressed at present, he plants seeds of an explanation in SOT. Similarly, Kiparsky asserts that SOT offers insight into how weight preservation via CL serves as a means to conserve contrast. Among his strongest claims in support of a stratal approach to CL, Kiparsky argues that the ability of CL to create distinctiveness or contrastive weight from predictably weighted elements is due to the fact that it acts upon weight assigned to elements at a higher stratum. The author tackles triggering by exploring CL that results from onset consonant loss in Samothraki Greek. After a detailed explanation of Consonant Gradation in Finnish based upon Bidirectional Optimization (Jäger 2000), Kiparsky discusses the link between this process and CL in Western Finnish. A number of concepts are entertained in support of a stratal approach, including SUPER-OPTIMALITY and an extension to the discussion in McCarthy (2007) on the exceptional nature of moraic FAITH, or lack thereof. Overall, Kiparsky’s chapter offers support for SOT approaches to the difficult topic of CL.
CHAPTER 3 - On the relationship between codas and onset cluster - Stuart Davis and Karen Baertsch
This chapter focuses upon the Split Margin Approach (SMA) to the syllable (Baertsch 2002). This model aims to formalize the relationship found in the world’s languages between particular syllable constituents. The authors discuss theoretical underpinnings of the model, its ability to account for implicational universals of syllable structure, and the support that it lends to changes in such structures in a variety of unrelated languages, among them Campidanian Sardinian, Bambara, and Winnebago. A key component of the SMA is its use of complementary Margin Hierarchies whose rankings relative to FAITH are used (alongside other relevant constraints) to account for consonants permitted in syllable margins and in syllable contact. By employing these Margin Hierarchies either singly or conjoined with one another, the authors offer an optimality theoretic explanation for Kaye and Lowenstamm’s (1981) proposal that complex onsets imply codas. Davis and Baertsch comment on languages appearing to be maximally CCV, explaining that they are, in fact, ‘coda-friendly’ or ‘covert CCVC’ languages, although the fleshing out of these claims is left to future research. The remainder of the chapter explores three case studies where changes in syllable structures are supported by the SMA. The authors show that the tightening of constraints on permitted syllable structures in the progression from Latin to Campidanian Sardinian resulted in [r] being the only type of consonant allowed to occupy a singleton coda while also witnessing a parallel omission of laterals (changed to [r]) as the second member of a branching onset. This relationship between the coda and M2 position of a branching onset is predicted by the SMA. An analogous situation is witnessed in the progression of Standard Bambara to Colloquial Bambara. The authors then revisit the discussion of epenthesis as a result of Dorsey’s Law in Winnebago.
CHAPTER 4 - The CVX theory of syllable structure - San Duanmu
This chapter promotes a new theory of syllable structure where the maximal syllable shape of every language is CVX, thus departing from alternative theories proposing a maximal CV syllable shape (e.g. Government Phonology) or an ‘all-in’ approach where all consonants are syllabified. Duanmu supports his theory with various claims, e.g. that the presence of additional consonants in word-final positions is due to morphology. Examples are drawn mainly from English, although the author points to his earlier work for more crosslinguistic coverage. For words with simple shapes, the CVX Theory appears to be readily applicable, given various assumptions about timing slots, the types of sequences that fill them, and to what extent. Among Duanmu’s stronger claims are that word-final consonants are permitted only in languages that contain vowel-initial suffixes (so that a word-final consonant can potentially occupy an onset position), and sequences of sounds sharing articulatory gestures form ‘complex sounds’. Regarding codas, the well-known word-final coronal consonants of English are dismissed on account of their affix-like nature, while VXC sequences are ruled out by a combination of potential-v (a final C acts as the onset of following syllable when suffixation occurs) and anti-allomorphy (a concept similar to paradigm uniformity). For instances where these assertions fail, Duanmu suggests alternative syllabifications that maintain his CVX claim. Duanmu makes an additional claim that consonant-consonant clusters at the left edge are complex sounds, so long as their articulatory gestures can overlap. An analysis of possible complex sounds hinges on the No Contour Principle, which places bounds on possible co-articulations.
CHAPTER 5 - The syllable as delimitation of the base for reduplication - Jason D. Haugen
Haugen contends that syllable-sized units must be identifiable by a grammar in order to achieve correct patterns of reduplication in certain languages. Background discussion on ways in which the syllable is referenced in morphophonological processes, constructions, and theories is offered. Haugen argues for Shaw’s (2005) Constituent Base Hypothesis by drawing upon Yidiny data, showing that the outcome of reduplication can be limited to a defined prosodic constituent, namely a foot. Turning to data from Hiaki and Yapese, Haugen argues that the syllable must be a possible base for reduplication. In Hiaki, it is illustrated that the reduplicant for a CV.CV word is a single CV, while the reduplicant for a CVC.CV word is the CVC first syllable. Templatic approaches to reduplication cannot predict these variable outcomes. Further discussion of reduplication in Mayo implies that these processes rely upon different bases that are dependent upon stress placement, although still making reference to the syllable. Opacity in base identification is brought to the fore in Hiaki verbs, leaving Haugen to posit that the syllable referenced in reduplication is defined in the underlying representation, rather than on the surface. Challenges that this presents to surface-based optimality theoretic frameworks are briefly discussed.
CHAPTER 6 - Geminates: Heavy or Long? - Catherine O. Ringen and Robert M. Vago
The authors take up two opposing viewpoints on the structural representation of geminates, the syllabic weight and segmental length approaches, and illustrate the superiority of the latter wherein geminates are inherently long, rather than inherently heavy. Argumentation is brought to bear against a syllabic weight analysis of geminates by presenting instances where geminates are apparently weightless. Because these geminates do not participate as expected in stress assignment, the authors argue that no claim can be made that geminates are underlyingly moraic. Because these structures are long but light, they claim that geminates, instead, occupy two timing slots. Further support is drawn from Baker’s (2008) work on Ngalakgan. Brief discussion is offered on the status of geminates, both heavy and weightless, in initial position, with data presented from Leti and Thurgovian Swiss illustrating that weightless geminates in this position forego the claim of inherent weight. Ringen and Vago turn to segmental phonology to show that geminates pattern with structures associated with two timing units, rather than with single timing unit entities, e.g. single consonants. Ultimately, they propose a universal representation for geminates consisting of a single melodic unit associated with two timing units while subsequently problematizing proposals of ‘true’ vs. ‘fake’ geminates argued for in earlier work.
CHAPTER 7 - Singing in Tashlhiyt Berber, a language that allows vowel-less syllables - François Dell
Dell explores the types of conflicting demands that are at play in singing Tashlhiyt Berber, which contains vowel-less syllables. The stated challenges arise because vowels are most often the units associated with the pitches of a melody in singing. In essence, Dell proposes a method of aligning a textual stream to melody couched in a framework reminiscent of autosegmental phonology. The chapter presents Tashlhiyt Berber songs and illustrates the linguistic manipulations that must be exercised to overlay a melody onto a language that often has voiceless segments for syllable nuclei.
CHAPTER 8 - The role of the syllable in speech production in American English: A fresh consideration of the evidence - Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel
This chapter considers a progression of work arguing for the role syllables play in speech production. Shattuck-Hufnagel discusses how some evidence presented in support of the syllable is tenuous. She introduces key arguments for the syllable, namely (i) speakers can count syllables, (ii) syllables can be viewed acoustically, (iii) there is a relationship between syllables and respiration, (iv) speakers can manipulate syllable-sized units, (v) syllables play a role in linguistic processes, (vi) certain articulatory characteristics belong to the syllable, (vii) speakers are aware of syllable frequency, and (viii) similar types of syllables can be produced more readily than unlike syllables. The shortcomings of each observation are explained. The remainder of the chapter focuses upon arguments implicating the syllable in speech errors and in the serial ordering of units in speech production. Shattuck-Hufnagel presents evidence calling these propositions into question and stating that for speech errors, in particular, the role played by syllables is ambiguous. Overall, the position taken suggests that reference to higher level prosodic constituents better explains the tendencies and generalizations observed in the earlier literature.
CHAPTER 9 - Do syllables exists? Psycholinguistic evidence for the retrieval of syllabic units in speech production - Joana Cholin
Cholin’s chapter tackles a longstanding question, the status of syllables as stored units. The author explores this within the frame of syllable frequency effects. Background on current theories is provided and their assumptions explained, most importantly the point at which syllables enter into production planning and phonological encoding. Phonetic encoding and ‘online’ segment assembly are explained to follow in suit. Cholin suggests that research on syllables in speech errors is indicative of syllabification occurring online, rather than from stored units. Experimental evidence is presented showing that segmental length makes a better prime than syllable congruency. This too implicates online syllable processing. Still other research has illustrated that the best primes contain both congruent segments and shared syllable structure. Other experiments have yielded frequency effects that point toward the presence of stored syllable units, or a ‘mental syllabary’, however these effects only hold in some languages. The question broached concerns where such units are located. A number of studies suggest that frequency effects are seen only in phonetic encoding, thus implicating a mental syllabary at a post-lexical phonetic level. Thus, while phonological syllables are constructed online during phonological encoding, access to a mental syllabary during phonetic encoding has a role to play in articulation.
CHAPTER 10 - Phonological encoding in healthy aging: Electrophysiological evidence - Yael Neumann, Loraine K. Obler, Hilary Gomes, and Valerie Shafer
Chapter 10 focuses upon the breakdown of phonological encoding accompanied by aging, which has been attributed to a gap grown between the semantic/syntax interface and the phonological grammar. The authors provide background on experiments probing stages of lexical retrieval, namely word conceptualization and lexical encoding, the latter of which purportedly contains a number of sub-stages for which little research has yet been undertaken. What is known about these stages reveals that semantic encoding precedes phonological encoding, and metrical coding of stress and syllabification (substages of phonological encoding) occur ‘incrementally’ and ‘in parallel’. The authors advance this line of research via experimental evidence gathered on mean reaction time for phonological tasks between two groups, one older and one younger. The results illustrate a significant difference between the populations wherein the older group had slower performance on phonological tasks. Moreover, syllabification tasks were shown to be delayed significantly for the older group compared to segmentation tasks.
CHAPTER 11 - The impact of experimental tasks on syllabification judgments: A case study of Russian - Marie-Hélène Côté and Viktor Kharlamov
This chapter offers a comprehensive overview of several experimental tasks employed in the literature to arrive at information on the ability of speakers to identify syllables. The authors introduce each task and reveal that little work has been done exploring correlations between the outcomes of these tasks. To this end, the authors report on a series of experiments employing five tasks that utilize the same stimuli. The outcomes reveal that results do not always correlate in a significant way for all tasks. While certain pairs of tasks correlated significantly with one another, only four of the ten pairs of tasks did so.
CHAPTER 12 - Syllables in speech processing: Evidence from perceptual epenthesis - Andries W. Coetzee
Coetzee approaches a longstanding issue in phonological theory, i.e. uncovering physical and psychological evidence for prosodic units like the syllable. He argues that syllable-size groupings are present during speech processing, even though convincing physical evidence might not be found for them. Coetzee revisits many arguments for the syllable discussed in earlier chapters. The studies reported here focus on perceptual epenthesis and the evidence that it lends to defining the level of processing at which syllables are perceived. Coetzee explains implications emerging from speaker perceptions of either well-formed or ill-formed parses, including those gleaned from the relationship between perception and timing. The results are quite complex, but several important outcomes emerge. Among these is that in the absence of a well-formed parse, mental epenthesis occurs to repair an offending sequence before the string is re-parsed. It is this additional step that explains slow the response time of participants for ill-formed stimuli. Furthermore, while both well-formed and ill-formed stimuli emerge with identical parses as a result of perceptual epenthesis, results point toward the fact that they are phonetically encoded as unique strings. A lengthy discussion explores implications in further detail.
CHAPTER 13 - Anglophone perceptions of Arabic syllable structure - Azra Ali, Michael Ingleby, and David Peebles
The authors probe the role of syllable structure in speech perception by looking at how L1 speakers of Arabic, English, and L2 speakers of Arabic perceive incongruent speech stimuli. McGurk fusion is used to accomplish this task. The authors discuss earlier work on English in which they employed this technique to show that the site of incongruence (onset, nucleus, or coda) has an effect on the likelihood of phonological fusion. Significant fusion affects were reported for coda position. Significant effects were also noted when stimuli contained branching syllable margins. Here, the authors expand their work to Arabic, which is historically coda-less but contains “notational codas” due to Western influences. The fusion task with L1 Arabic speakers vs. L1 English speakers with Arabic stimuli shows that, for Arabic speakers, fusion rates were equivalent in all positions. For English speakers however, the same skewed effect toward codas was found. This suggests that speakers impose their native syllable structure on other languages and therefore that syllable structure is part of a speaker’s “mental phonological representation”. The experiment repeated with Arabic students yields results similar to L1 Arabophones.
CHAPTER 14 - The role of syllable structure: The case of Russian-speaking children with SLI - Darya Kavitskaya and Maria Babyonyshev
This chapter explores the role syllables play in the speech of individuals with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). The authors explain that leading theories implicate either a phonological deficit or an impaired phonological short-term memory as contributing to difficulties experienced by children with SLI. The authors aim to show that the phonological component of SLI is affected by decreased phonological memory and is further challenged by complex syllable structure. Experimental work testing two variables in Russian pseudo-words, i.e. word length and syllable complexity for typically-developing (TD) and SLI-afflicted children is reported. It is shown that the number of syllables affects accurate productions for both groups and that there is a significant difference between the performance of TD and SLI children for these tasks, with SLI children having lower accuracy. This implicates phonological memory as a factor in SLI. The authors report that while both groups show significant difficulty with complex syllables, the difference between the performance of the groups is not significant. It is clear that both phonological memory and syllable complexity are factors in the phonological performance of children with SLI, however not all effects are significantly different from TD children. The chapter repudiates earlier work by Marshall et al. (2003) claiming that SLI children have limited access to a full inventory of syllable structures. The findings introduce a promising line of future research.
CHAPTER 15 - Syllable markedness and misperception: It’s a two-way street - Iris Berent, Tracy Lennertz, and Paul Smolensky
The authors explore markedness restrictions at play in syllables and specifically the relationship that exists between the physical performance of syllables, grammar/competence, and perception. These issues are tackled by considering syllable complexity and epenthesis as they relate to sonority sequencing restrictions. The point of departure is that complex syllables (those with marked sonority sequences) are perceived incorrectly and are repaired by epenthesis. The authors approach the details behind these instances of epenthesis in a series of experiments where they test the propensity of speakers to repair consonant-consonant sequences by epenthesis (i.e. to report the number of syllables in a word incorrectly) in nonce monosyllabic and disyllabic words according to the sonority distance between the consonants. By evaluating these marked sequences with English and Russian speaking participants, it is illustrated that accuracy of syllable count (misperception) was affected by linguistic experience, i.e. native syllable structure. The authors attribute these affects to markedness and suggest that markedness results in issues in performance. These experiments are extended to address related questions about the perception of falling sonority onsets.
CHAPTER 16 - Syllables and syllabaries: What writing systems tell us about syllable structure - Amalia Gnanadesikan
In this chapter, Gnanadesikan reports on information pertaining to the syllable found in writing systems. She provides background on earlier work and points out inherent difficulties in analyzing systems like syllabaries where scholars have wrangled about whether syllables or smaller units like the mora are encoded. Gnanadesikan explores these issues by focusing upon syllabaries. The author offers evidence that Akkadian encodes syllables rather than moras given that vowel length is ignored in the system. Shared vocalic information further supports syllable encoding in Mayan. For Cypriot, Gnanadesikan argues that vocalic patterns reference sonority differences between consonants, and analogously, in Linear B, the retention or deletion of certain consonants is also due to sonority. The exceptional behavior of [s] in margins is shown to be captured in some syllabaries. Thus, characteristics long attributed to the syllable are encoded in signs in these systems. For comparison, systems are shown where the mora (e.g. Japanese Hiragana and Vai) and the rhyme (e.g. Bopomofo Chinese) are encoded as units, rather than the syllable. It is suggested that the “alphabetically literate” Western tradition of scholars has contributed to the presence of the syllable being called into question in writing systems.
CHAPTER 17 - Diachronic phonotactic developments in Latin: The work of syllable structure of linear sequence? - Ranjan Sen
The final chapter focuses on syllable- and linear segment-based diachronic approaches to changes in Latin consonant-consonant phonotactics, particularly assimilation. In syllable-based approaches, Sen highlights three strategies for assimilation. These approaches stipulate that certain segments are either favored or disallowed in particular syllable positions. Research on linear approaches, on the other hand, relies heavily upon perceptual cues of positions in a sequence, wherein highly perceptible positions permit the most contrasts. By reporting on research on assimilations in voice, place, continuance, and nasality, Sen argues that linear approaches are superior to their syllable-based counterparts. This argument stands firm until additional data is presented on the behavior of obstruent-liquid sequences. It is illustrated the syllabic affiliation of the sequence, i.e. tautosyllabic or heterosyllabic, determines the permitted or failed voicing assimilation noted in the language. As a result, the syllable cannot be fully discarded or ignore in analyses of assimilation. In sum, while linear sequences can be implicated in many assimilatory processes, the finer details of allophony must necessarily reference syllable structure.
I first provide some evaluative remarks on individual chapters, followed by comments on the volume as a whole. Ch. 2 - This chapter is yet another of Kiparsky’s that keeps the fielding moving forward. Stratal optimality theoretic approaches are among those that are pushing the envelope of what is possible in constraint-based frameworks. What is unsettling, however, relates to discussion non-moraic triggers to CL, namely the moraic onsets discussed in Samothraki Greek. It is surprising that Kiparsky so immediately dismisses alternative claims by Kavitskaya as “in a sense, too easy” and the support on the subject offered more recently by Topintzi (2006). I assume here that the timeline did not permit the author to consult the (2010) update to Topintzi’s research on the subject that provides more compelling arguments and further support for her claim that onsets must be considered moraic in certain languages, as it was not cited.
Ch. 3 - Davis & Baertsch’s chapter is a welcome next step in their emerging research program grounded in the Baertsch’s Split Margin Approach. The strength of this model is clear in that a number of scholars have begun to adopt it and test its implications in a number of diverse languages.
Ch. 4 - Duanmu’s chapter is quite provocative in that it adopts a middle of the road approach to maximal syllable shape. For those instances where his strong assertions fail, however, Duanmu is quick to suggest alternative syllabifications and other caveats that allow him to maintain his CVX claim. In discussing differences between the size of word-internal syllables vs. those at a word edge, on the topic of aspiration, Duanmu offers some tenuous assumptions, among them that “some English speakers” mistakenly recognize a word like asparagus as a sparrowgrass, thus suggesting a perceived word boundary before the first CC sequence of the word. While it appears that Duanmu’s position is a strong generalization, he admits that apparent exceptions can be found. Furthermore, what is unsatisfying in this chapter is that Duanmu often problematizes issues that, thus far, have not found a fully convincing explanation in the theoretical literature, but that would challenge his claims, choosing instead to reject them on account of inconclusive evidence.
Ch. 5 - Haugen’s data provides a clear argument in support of his position that templatic approaches fail to account for reduplication patterns in some languages. It is refreshing that, rather than problematizing or attacking alternative approaches, among them Raimy’s (2000) linear-order Precedence Based Phonology and Inkelas and Zoll’s (2005) Morphological Doubling Theory (which makes use of co-phonologies), Haugen offers a comparison between his analysis and these approaches in order to suggest ways in which the alternative accounts might successfully come to accommodate the syllable as a base for reduplication.
Ch. 6 - Ringen and Vago should be praised for their clear argumentation and precise presentation of data. Like Kiparsky, in Chapter 2, however, the authors are quick to gloss over alternative arguments opposing their position, most notably from Topintzi (2010), although they do not dismiss these counterarguments outright.
Ch. 7 - For a linguist who has also been formally trained in music, this chapter on text-to-tune alignment is perhaps the most challenging in the volume. What is unsettling about the analysis and theory developed is not that certain generalities of musical practice are explored from a linguistic standpoint, but rather that the analysis puts aside the compositionality of music such that melodies and their association with text have been developed, taught, and passed down generationally. Dell discusses the insertion of schwa to facilitate melodic overlay between certain consonant sequences, however again, such insertions do not appear to be entirely unpredictable where they are inserted or why they must be inserted. The paraphonological insertion of schwa in Berber, and namely its metrical inertness, in comparison to that found in its French analogue, is interesting, but again is not unexpected given that the vowel was present historically in French but is inserted in Berber only to aid in a performable melodic overlay.
Ch. 8 - For phonologists whose research might tend more toward the descriptive and theoretical ends, this chapter is an eye opener. The chapter successfully highlights a number of potential shortcomings and issues to consider when pursuing future experimental work on the syllable as a phonological unit. It should be read by all.
Ch. 9, 10, 12, & 15 - These chapters and their results are particularly well explained and succinctly articulated. Their findings bridge the gap between theoretical phonological exploration and psycholinguistics in an accessible way and provide a clear illustration of results that will be of importance in the design and implementation of a host of future experiments.
Ch. 11 - The results presented here have rich implications for experimental work on the syllable. Moreover, the reported findings will undoubtedly hit home for any researcher who has or intends to employ any of the explored tasks. This impactful chapter will cause many to consider what effects these results might have on their tasks and/or if the task(s) they are using in their research are the most appropriate for the job they set out to do.
Ch. 13 - This chapter will be of interest to researchers across a number of disciplines relating to phonology, particularly for those specializing in optimizing second language acquisition. One can only hope that this line of experimentation will be expanded outside of Arabic and English to test the effects found in languages with other core syllable structure. An interesting question that arises from this outcome concerns how those scholars utilizing the Government Phonology framework might account for the findings in this series of studies.
Ch. 14 - This chapter stands out as one whose results are readily applied to more clinical endeavors and research in speech science. Furthermore, the results are significant in that they are reported to repudiate earlier longstanding claims on Specific Language Impairment. Thus, it is clear that the authors have conducted cutting edge research that is actively pushing the bounds of linguistic research by challenging and redefining scholarship on a topic that has the potential to have an immediate impact on clinical populations and treatment for phonologically disabled children.
Ch. 16 - This chapter is a welcome addition in that it draws upon material that is often overshadowed or absent from the mainstream phonological literature. The chapter rounds out the volume’s presentation of theoretical and experimental work by considering syllables from a different type of applied perspective, namely writing systems. The interesting material provided compels the reader to explore Gnanadesikan’s other works on the subject and to keep an eye out for the next installation of findings in this promising research program.
Ch. 17 - Sen’s chapter offers a refreshing new look at Latin data. What is reported in the chapter illustrates that it may be necessary at times to combine multiple approaches or lines of reasoning when working on some of the most difficult topics. By doing so, one may arrive at a more cohesive analysis. This should be a reminder and a reality check for scholars who tend to rail against exploring data in alternative frameworks or analytical traditions.
As a whole, this volume is highly successful in many ways owing to the strong material that it presents from a cadre of successful scholars on a wide range of compelling and contemporary, yet challenging topics. For the most part, the chapters in this volume speak to its being a ‘handbook’ on the syllable, in that they provide background, explain, and take to task what can be considered key topics of concern to linguists studying the syllable, among them compensatory lengthening, gemination, sonority, reduplication, writing systems, language disorders, markedness, epenthesis, and syllable representations and identification. There were, however, some instances where chapters too fully wrapped in theoretical argumentation were less successful and out of place. Among the chapters, some could be said to be more approachable than others in that they kept to a presentation of facts, explanations, and discussion at a level suitable to scholars with a diverse range of backgrounds in phonological and psycholinguistic theory, statistics, and experimental methods. While others were more complex, they nonetheless offered a vast amount of valuable information, although they required more specialized expertise in order to interpret their findings.
Overall, the volume is suitable as a ‘go-to’ resource for information on the syllable. As stated above, the volume appears to be skewed in the direction of experimental work or laboratory phonology, which appears to be the reigning trend in the field. Many of the chapters focused on experimental work, however, were conceived and constructed in such a way that they are accessible to those individuals who have received less training in experimental techniques and argumentation. It is admittedly unfortunate that not even a single a chapter was devoted to an alternative framework like Government Phonology, as this volume would have offered an ideal opportunity for argumentation and underpinnings of the theory to be discussed in juxtaposition to other generative, constraint-based, and experimental approaches. I find this to be the one obvious downfall of an otherwise superb volume on the syllable.
REFERENCES Baerstch, Karen. 2002. An optimality theoretic approach to the syllable: The Split Margin Hierarchy. Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University.
Baker, Brett J. 2008. Word structure in Ngalakgan. Palo Alto, CA: CSLI.
Browman, Catherine P. and Louis Goldstein. 1989. Articulatory gestures as phonological units. Phonology 6: 201-251.
Inkelas, Sharon and Cheryl Zoll. 2005. Reduplication: Doubling in morphology. Cambridge: CUP.
Jäger, Gerhard. 2002. Some notes on the formal properties of Bidirectional Optimality Theory. Journal of Logic, Language, and Information. 11: 427-451.
Kaye, Jonathan and Jean Lowenstamm. 1981. Syllable structure and markedness theory: Theory of markedness in generative grammar. In Proceedings of the 1979 GLOW Conference, ed. by Adriana Belletti, Luciana Brandi, and Luigi Rizzi, pp. 287-315. Pisa, Italy: Scuola normale superiore di Pisa.
Marshall, Chloe, John Harris, and Heather van der Lely. 2003. The nature of phonological representations in children with Grammatical-Specific Language Impairment (G-SLI). In The University of Cambridge first postgraduate conference in language research, ed. by D. Hall, T. Markopoulos, A. Salamoura, and S. Skoufaki, pp. 511-517. Cambridge: Cambridge Institute of Language Research.
McCarthy, John J. 2007. Hidden Generalizations. London: Equinox.
Prince, Alan and Paul Smolensky. 2004. Optimality theory: Constraint interaction in generative grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
Raimy, Eric. 2000. The phonology and morphology of reduplication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Shaw, Patricia A. 2005. Non-adjacency in reduplication. in Studies on Reduplication, ed. by Bernard Hurch, pp. 161-210. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Topintzi, Nina. 2006. A (not so) paradoxical instance of compensatory lengthening: Samothraki Greek and theoretical implications. Journal of Greek Linguistics. 7: 71-119.
Topintzi, Nina. 2010. Onsets: Suprasegmental and prosodic behaviour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Christopher Green (Ph.D., Indiana University) is a Research Scientist at
the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language. His
work focuses on prosodic phonology, and more specifically on syllabic and
moraic theory and tone in African languages, with a specialization in the
Mande sub-family. Green’s research aims to highlight the descriptive and
theoretical merits of exploring understudied and under-documented languages
through first hand field linguistics. His dissertation, 'Prosodic phonology
in Bamana (Bambara): Syllable complexity, metrical structure, and tone',
explores the phonological changes apparent in an emergent variety of Bamana
spoken in Bamako, Mali, and frames segmental and tonal processes underway
in the language in reference to prosodic structure above th