Working paper Open Access
In this paper I shall explain the structure of the syllable. foot. and prosodic word in Burmese. using a constraint-based framework following Optimality Theory. In particular. I shall propose a family of constraints called UNARITY. which states that a prosodic category (PrWd, Ft, (j) is pennitted to contain no more than one of the next lower prosodic category (Ft, (j, Il, respectively).
This constraint is responsible for several types of idiosyncratic prosodic behavior seen in Burmese: the
difference between and distribution of major (heavy) and minor (light) syllables; the fact that a foot (obligatorily bimoraic in Burmese as elsewhere) can be only a single heavy syllable; the resulting lack of [L L] feet, and the difference between so-called "reducing" compounds (in which a member is reduced from a major syllable to a minor syllable) and "nonreducing" compounds (in which no such reduction takes place).