3

Tashelhiyt permits any segment to act as a syllable nucleus, regardless of sonority. There's lots of theoretical analyses out there, but descriptively, Tashelhiyt consonant syllabification moves left to right in a word, targeting the most sonorous segment first, assigning it an onset (if possible), and then syllabifying the next-most sonorous segment, unless it would create adjacent syllabic segments. Anything left over that can't be syllabified is a coda. The sonorant hierarchy for Tashelhiyt goes like:

low vowel > high vowel > glide > liquid > nasal > voiced fricative voiceless fricative > voiced plosive > voiceless plosive

For example (from Dell & Elmedlaoui 1985):

/rajrˤz/ [ra.jr̩ˤz] 'it will be broken'

/ʜawltn/ [ʜa.wl̩.tn̩] 'make them(m.) plentiful'

/tlbʒt/ [tl̩.bʒ̍t] 'you(sg.) stepped onto'

/tzmt / [t̩.zm̩t] 'it(f.) is stifling'

If multiple eligible candidates are of the same sonority, the leftmost one generally wins:

/rksx/ [r̩.ks̩x] (**r̩k.sx̩) 'I hid'

I found some examples in an acoustic study (Ridouane 2008). Most of the syllabifications given perfectly match the description above, but some of the forms deviated concerning /f/; when syllabification has the chance to target /f/ or a another fricative, it will apparently always choose /f/, even if the other fricative is the leftmost candidate, even though both are voiceless fricatives and apparently of the same sonority:

/tkʃf/ = [tk̩.ʃf̩] (not [t̩.kʃ̩f]) 'it dried'

/sfqqst/ = [sf̩q.qs̩t] (not [s̩f.qːs̩t]) 'irritate him'

I want to know if this phenomenon arises because /f/ is more sonorous than /s/, or if there's some other explanation. Perhaps when presented with otherwise equally eligible candidates, Tashelhiyt will first choose the leftmost one, unless it would create a word-initial onsetless syllable, in which case it will choose to syllabify the rightmost one. That seems to be partly true--that's probably why /tkʃf/ is [tk̩.ʃf̩] instead of [t̩k.ʃf̩]. But this doesn't explain another example given, /sxf/ [s̩.xf̩] 'fade away'; if the syllabification where instead [sx̩f], that would avoid an onsetless syllable. Instead, [s̩.xf̩] seems to show /f/ being syllabified before /x/, suggesting that there is also a sonority hierarchy where /f/ is more sonorous than /x/ as well as /s/.

This seems counterintuitive to me--I'd think sibilants would be more sonorous than /f/, not less. Any insight into this phenomenon would be appreciated greatly!

5

Insofar as sonority is the phonologization of perceptual prominence and robustness, f would be one of the least-sonorous fricatives, ahead of [θ,ɸ] but behind [s,ʃ,x,χ,ħ], which either have higher-amplitude fricative noise or more-perceptible noise concentrated in optimal frequencies. The spectrum of [f] is fairly flat

1
  • I suspected as much! I'm stumped to explain the Tashelhiyt data then.
    – Khove
    Aug 13 at 23:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.