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Diachronic Phonotactic Development In Latin: The Work Of Syllable Structure Or Linear Sequence?

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Chapter Summary

There has been considerable debate in the phonological literature of the last few decades concerning the role played by the syllable in consonantal phonotactics. One party attributes the range of contrasts in each environment to positions within the syllable (the syllable-based approach); an opposing camp argues that linear segmental sequence, not syllable-internal position, determines phonotactics (the linear approach). This chapter evaluates the two approaches from a mainly diachronic perspective with reference to the development of Latin consonantal phonotactics, focusing upon assimilations. The understanding of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word-formation has long been sufficiently refined to furnish us with a rich array of securely reconstructed consonantal sequences in prehistoric Latin, whose outcome in the familiar classical language is much altered. As the two accounts make different predictions regarding the possible development of word-internal consonantal sequences, Latin presents a promising testing ground.

Keywords: diachronic phonotactic development; Proto-Indo-European (PIE); syllable; word-formation



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