Monday, June 4, 2012

degemination. formatives, sonorant clustering

happier > hap yer
kindlier > kin lyer
narrower > nar wer
subtler > sut ler
carefully > care flee
gratefulest > grateflest
meagerest > meagrest
oftenest > ofnest
unbecomingly > unbecomlee

A morphological development may be blocked when several unstressed syllables would occur in succession (unless one can be reduced by degemination), esp if complex clusters would stand between unstressed syllables.

Thus, the formations, *difficultly, *difficulter, and *difficultest are ruled out in Eng because of their phonetological characteristics. This is not--pace grammarians--because of the length of the words, since unbecomingly and insincerest are all right.

Happier, kindlier, narrower, subtler, carefully, gratefulest, meagerest, and oftenest are acceptable because the syllables preceding inflectional endings are reducible by degemination.

#W+#infl ~ #W+#infl - 1

*rabidest (d is not a sonorant)
   traffick#er, diffident#ish

The facts that just stated seem to be at variance with the requirement that -ed- be pronounced as a full syllable before -ly and -ness as in markedly, markedness.

Increased constant clustering is no problem--as the increased consonantal clustering wud be in mark'dly and mark'dness--since sonorants often cluster easily. This is not true of a post-obstruent nasal.

The -ed- reduces obstruent clustering and makes words easier to pronounce.
Degemination (r, l, m, n )makes for ease too


Gerunds and attributive participles  in  -ing ending  in an unstressed  vowel  plus a sonorant are
dissyllabic  in normal  tempos  when  the uninflected  verb  is dissyllabic  (e.g. soft'ning,  lab'lling,  lab'ring,
andfoll'ning),  while  the predicative  variant  is trissyllabic  (eg.  softening,  labelling,  labouring,and
follov'ing). Similar  differences exist with anterior participles; contrast attributive  agid, learnid, burnt,
spilt,  rotten, molten, swollen,  laden, sunken,  and drunken  with  predicative  ag'd,  Iearn'd,  burned,
spilled, rotted,  melted,  swelled,  loaded,  sunk, and drunk.  Note  -ed after  stressed  syllables  when  -ly
or -ness  is added  to a participle  in -ed; e.g. morkedly, markedness.

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