Sonority scales and syllable structure

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This paper develops an analysis of syllable-structure changes from Latin to Proto-Romance and Spanish within the framework of recent developments in the formal treatment of OT. Some aspects of the transition in syllable structure from Classical Latin (CL) to Vulgar Latin (VL) and Spanish will be discussed and shown to lead to the following general question: Which principles guide margin-structure transformations in a particular language? After characterizing the syllable structure (the set of possible margins: onsets and codas) of Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin/Proto-Romance/Spanish, it is claimed that structural transitions from Latin to Vulgar Latin show a general tendency to create more harmonic or sonorous structures (margins). This sonority-based treatment maximizes the impact of sonority scales on syllabification, going beyond standard generative treatments combining derivational rules and sonority constraints such as the Sonority Sequencing generalization.


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