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The Role of the Sonority Cycle in Core Syllabification

Clementrs, G. N.

My purpose here will be to examine the status of sonority within phonological theory.

I will propose that an adequate account of sonority must be based on a principle termed the Sonority Cycle, according to which the sonority profile of the preferred syllable type rises maximally at the beginning and drops minimally at the end (the term cycle will be used exclusively in this study to refer to this quasiperiodic rise and fall).

We will see that this principle is capable of providing a uniform explanation not only for cross-linguistic generalizations of segment sequencing of the sort mentioned above, but also for an impressive number of additional observations which have not been related to each other up to the present time. Regarding its substantive nature, I will suggest that sonority is not a single, multidimensional property of segments, but is derived from more basic binary categories, identical to the major class features of standard phonological theory (Chomsky and Halle 1968) supplemented with the feature "approximant."

This paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see
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