The sonority cycle and the acquisition of complex onsets

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The Sonority Cycle (Clements 1990), consisting of the Core Syllabification Principle (CSP) and Feature Dispersion Principle (FDP), is a model of syllable structure that systematically reveals the markedness relationships among syllable margins. This paper presents the results of two studies testing the Sonority Cycle. The first study examines the production of biliteral and triliteral onsets, the latter being more marked than the former. The second study examines the production of three biliteral onsets differing in their sonority profile. Of the three, /.st-/ is the most marked because it violates the CSP. In turn /.sn-/ is more marked than /.sl-/ because of its higher dispersion value according to the FDP. Both studies found that less marked onsets are correctly produced more frequently than are more marked onsets.


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