Syllabic consonants

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Tue Mar 3 22:40:45 UTC 2009

Direct him to the languages of the Salish group here--syllabic
fricatives galore--and we all have them in our own English allegro

Paul Johnston
On Feb 28, 2009, at 4:50 PM, Geoffrey Nathan wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Geoffrey Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU>
> Subject:      Syllabic consonants
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> ---------
> I will break my vow here not to enter into discussions with Mr. Z,
> but his comment
>> Syllabic "l" is not a good concept. A syllable needs a vowel.
>> Also if you add a suffix you might need that vowel.
>> For instand cannibalize. It's not pronounced cannablize.
>> But a "syllabic l" would wipe out the vowel that is necessary
>> there. Syllabic l is bad concept that is worthless.
> is insulting to Czech speakers living in Brno (syllabic trilled
> rhotic) and those who speak Srpski (Serbian), not to mention those
> who live in Plzen (syllabic lateral approximant) or drink the
> 'Plsner' that comes from there.  Not to mention all American
> English speakers who have syllabic [n]'s in 'button' [bV?n,]
> (V=caret; ,=syllabic marker under n).  Then there's Tamazight
> Berber with syllabic f's and even t's:         /tf`tk`ts`tt/   `you
> sprained it' (
> And, of course, there is a contrast between syllabic [l,] and non-
> syllabic [l] in cases such as the famous pair 'coddling' (treating
> with kid gloves) and 'codling' (baby cod).  M-W, for example,
> illustrates this contrast (and no, I'm not making a substantive
> claim about the phonemes of English here--I suspect there's
> actually an underlying schwa there, but as with all sonorants, the
> coda spreads into the nucleus in unstressed syllables.)
> Geoff
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> Faculty Liaison, C&IT
> and Associate Professor, Linguistics Program
> +1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
> +1 (313) 577-8621 (English/Linguistics)
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