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Title:Metrical foot structure in Thai and Kayah Li: Optimality-theoretic studies in the prosody of two southeast Asian languages
Author(s):Bennett, Jefferson Fraser
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kisseberth, Charles W.; Lehman, Frederic K.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:Foot structure is essential to the prosodic structure of two unrelated Southeast Asian languages, Standard Thai and Kayah Li. Metrical foot structure is rarely used in the analysis of Southeast Asian languages. This in itself is not surprising, for Southeast Asian languages generally lack the alternating patterns of multiple stress levels which immediately lend themselves to analysis in terms of metrical feet. Nevertheless, an analysis which includes metrical feet and which is framed in terms of Optimality Theory offers a satisfying explanation of many otherwise-unrelated aspects of Thai and Kayah Li phonology.
Following Hayes 1994, I take stress to be abstract, realized structurally on the head syllables of prosodic constituents. The exponents of stress in Thai and Kayah Li are two syllable weight and tonality, two binary oppositions (which accounts for the lack of multiple stress levels). The close association of syllable weight with foot headship, plus a consistent pattern of metrical right-headedness, derives iambic foot structure, and forms the basis for the frequent distinction between major syllables and minor syllables. An analysis in terms of Optimality Theory can express these facts as the effects of interacting constraints.
An adequate analysis of Thai and Kayah Li must also take account of phonologically distinct speech styles. In an optimality-theoretic account, such speech styles must be analyzed as belonging to formally distinct constraint rankings. Such an analysis of Thai and Kayah Li speech styles is descriptively adequate. In addition, the differential rankings of key constraints (for the most part having to do with foot structure) directly serve functionally-grounded goals: hyperarticulated speech is marked by preservation of all underlying featural specifications, respecting the functional need for distinctness; while hypoarticulated speech minimizes prosodic structure in response to the speaker's need for ease of articulation.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Bennett, Jefferson Fraser
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543532
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543532

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