Superadditivity and limitations on syllable complexity in Bambara words

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This paper explores <i>superadditivity</i> effects in natural language by considering three interrelated phenomena in Colloquial Bambara (CB). The premise of superadditivity is that although marked structures are accommodated in a system, particular structures cannot co-occur in a given domain. This arises because the simultaneous, additive violation of constraints within a domain arguably incurs an additional penalty. Thus, languages may limit the number of phonologically complex structures in a domain. We consider superadditivity in CB, which places strict limitations on the type and distribution of complex syllables within a word. We also discuss these data as they relate to models of phonological acquisition which maintain that outright bans on multiple complex structures do not occur in adult language yet are frequently encountered in developing languages.


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