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Syllable Onsets in Haitian and Saramaccan: Between Substrate and Superstrate

Friday, March 26, 2010
12:00 AM
Wolverine ABC in the Michigan Union

Parth Bhatt, Department of French, University of Toronto This paper examines the status of branching or complex consonantal onsets in five languages, namely English, French, Gen, Haitian and Saramaccan. The focus of the research will be on the status of word initial complex onsets in these languages. This paper will begin by examining Blevins’ (1995) typology of syllable structures in the world’s languages and will comment briefly on the advantages and disadvantages of the parameter based approach to syllable structure and linguistic typology. The second section of this paper presents empirical evidence on the segments found in attested word initial consonant sequences in English, French, Gen, Haitian and Saramaccan. The third part of this paper presents a distinction between adjacent consonantal segments (consonant clusters) and non adjacent consonantal segments (consonant chains). The final section of the paper will present a new interpretation of syllable onsets in the languages mentioned above and propose a revised version of the syllable parameters for Haitian and Saramaccan.