Weight and feet in Québécois




Bosworth, Yulia

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This dissertation is a proposal for foot structure in Québécois that uniformly accounts for high vowel distribution with respect to tenseness, devoicing and deletion within a single prosodic framework. The complementary distribution of tenseness in the final syllable and the variable realizations in the non-final syllable are shown to be regulated by the proposed foot structure. A grammatical, sonority-based surface weight distinction is assumed for vowels: tense high vowels are associated to a full mora µ, along with non-high vowels, while lax high vowels are associated to a hypomora λ, a weight value less than µ. This grammatical weight is regulated at the level of the minimally monomoraic foot. The final, Head Foot is necessarily monosyllabic. Thus, a final hypomoraic rime is quantitatively insufficient to host a foot projection, resulting in a monomoraic, tense vowel in an open syllable. The foot expands to include an adjacent syllable in words consisting of more than two syllables, following the Trochaic Markedness Hierarchy, based on the following three principles, in the order of priority: 1) quantitative minimum: light and heavy rimes are preferred to superlight (λ) rimes, 2) quantitative evenness: even trochees are preferred to uneven trochees, and 3) quantitative dominance: the left branch that is heavier than the right branch is preferred to the left branch that is lighter. A form like /kamizᴐl/ surfaces with a monomoraic, tense vowel in the left branch of the trochee, (ska. wmi)(szᴐl), given that an even foot (L L) is preferred to an uneven foot with a hypomoraic branch, (L SL). The trochaic instantiation (H) is also better-formed than (L SL), preferring deletion to a hypomoraic rime: (kam)(zᴐl). In the Optimality-theoretic analysis, variation is modeled via the mechanism of a Floating Constraint (Reynolds 1994): a constraint whose ranking status can be varied with respect to a set range of a fixed ranking of constraints, within a single grammar. The variation in question is shown to be largely a function of the floating status of the constraint regulating the grammatical weight association of vowels, (Son-Weight), and its relative ranking with respect to the Trochaic Markedness constraints.



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