The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 2/18 - Takashi Morita

Speaker: Takashi Morita
Title: Prominence correspondence
Date/Time: Tuesday, Feb 18, 5:30p (Note special date)
Location: 32-D831

Prominent phonological units are likely to appear in metrically prominent positions. For instance, syllables with a more sonorous nucleus tend to constitute the head of a foot, receiving stress (de Lacy, 2002a,b, 2004; Kenstowicz, 1997). Likewise, high-toned syllables, considered more prominent than low- toned ones, tend to be placed in foot-head positions (de Lacy, 2002b).It has been suggested that syllables, just as feet, also contain a metrically prominent position: the first mora of their nucleus by default (Kager, 1993). Syllable-internal metrical prominence gives an explanation for preference of falling diphthongs over rising diphthongs. Given a language with the default falling metrical prominence contour, rising diphthongs in the language cause disagreement between metrical prominence and sonority; sonority rises in the diphthongs while metrical prominence falls in the domain. This is a motivation that syllable-internal metrical prominence also requires sonority to correspond just as in feet. Since sonority is sensitive to metrical prominence in both feet and syllables, tone, whose relation to foot-internal metrical prominence has been reported (de Lacy, 2002b), is also expected to be associated with syllable-internal metrical prominence. The present paper provides detailed evidence from Tokyo Japanese (TJ) for the mora-level correspondence between tone and metrical prominence, and gives an formal analysis of it within the framework of Optimality Theory (OT) (Prince and Smolensky, 1993/2004). Based on this evidence, we can com- plete the claim that metrical prominence, segmental prominence (or sonority), and tonal prominence must all agree, or at least must not disagree.