iron: /@r/ vs syllabic /r/

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Aug 11 02:50:02 UTC 2000

At 11:15 AM +0100 8/11/00, Aaron E. Drews wrote:
>>         From a more surfacy comparative point of view, it makes sense to
>>recognize the /@r/ as a sequence, since then r-less varieties can be
>>derived by dropping the /r/, but leaving the /@/.
>I would disagree with this.  In short, I would say that RP (and the
>like) have /schwa/ in exactly the same places American (rhotic) has
>/hooked-schwa/.  But, I also assume that RP is 'underlyingly'
>(whatever that means) non-rhotic.
As someone weaned on SPE, I'm wondering how treating RP as
underlyingly non-rhotic would allow you to handle the standard
alternations and sandhi phenomena (e.g. when a word with a final -r
is followed by a vowel-initial word, or suffix).   It always seemed
to me that in such cases (including "silent" final consonants in
masculine French adjectives that show up in the feminine) it's more
economical and explanatory to assume that the alternating segment is
underlying present (and deleted) rather than absent (and mysteriously
inserted in just those forms that do alternate).

On a related subject, since I didn't get any response last time I
mentioned it, do any other listees (from NYC or elsewhere) share my
native ['ay at rniy] pronunciation for "irony"--or, if non-rhotic, the
hypothesized variant ['ay at niy]-rhyming-with-Hermione?


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