Breaking doubled consonants into syllables

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 27 00:55:30 UTC 2012

On Aug 26, 2012, at 5:29 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> OK, Wilson, Ben, and Larry have given me the "other"
> cases.  Summarizing for myself:
> (1)  Some situations are doubling to affect pronunciation (to
> distinguish two words; e.g. hopping vs. hoping).  For such words, in
> speech the consonant is (usually? or always?) not spoken in each syllable.
> (2)  Other situations are doubling because of an affix (e.g.
> unnatural, immodest) or because two separate words are combined (e.g.
> bookcase).  For such words, in speech the consonant is (usually)
> spoken in each syllable.
> Correct? Or as close as any rule can get for English?
> Larry, somehow for me "innocent" doesn't fit in your list of
> "un#natural or non#native, but not in im+modest or in+nocent or
> ir+relevant".

in+nocent is supposed to be like im+modest in being Level I and thus to not allow geminates.  Isn't that true for you?  The main difference is the stress; since "innocent" is stressed on the first syllable, it's even harder to get a geminate, but none of the iN- ones are geminates for me (or for AHD).

> In each of the others I (think I) pronounce the
> consonant also at the beginning of the second syllable, but for
> "innocent" I (definitely?) do not.
> Joel

I may not have been clear, but the idea is that there's a class of affixes including negative (and locative) iN- that affect and and are affected by the stems they attach to; they're less productive, they cause assimilation (that's why it's "immodest" and "irregular" and "irradiate") and potentially get stressed (that's why it's "INfamous" and "IMpious"), and they also can result in a loss of transparency in the meaning (again, "infamous" and "impious" aren't negations of their stems but something quite different and unpredictable).  They can also attach to non-word stems ("induce", "exhume", etc.).  These are the Level I or Class 1 affixes; essentially, the dividing line between affix and stem is much weaker or more penetrable in these cases, and that's also why you don't get geminates pronounced separately any more than in "inner", "assert", or "affix".  But the # boundary associated with Level II affixes requires real words as their stems, and is more of a barrier to vari!
 ous processes: loss of transparency (unX is typically 'not X' or a stronger, contrary opposite of X, but nothing as weird or opaque as "infamous" or "inert"), stress shifts (the "un" never gets main stress the way "iN-" sometimes does), assimilation (unreligious vs. irreligious), and geminate reduction.  The even stronger boundary between parts of a compound are correspondingly even more of a boundary to phonological processes (although to be sure the meaning is often not completely transparent).

YMMV, but I hope not too radically…

> At 8/26/2012 04:59 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> Any cases of compounding like these, where each word contributes its
>> own consonant, do retain their pronunciation except sometimes in
>> fast speech. (I can imagine "bookcase" either with or without a
>> double /kk/, for example.)
>> LH
>> On Aug 26, 2012, at 4:37 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> > Does the example of "bookkeeping" and related words help? There
>> aren't many words in English with geminates, but they do exist.
>> >
>> > Benjamin Barrett
>> > Seattle, WA
>> >
>> > On Aug 26, 2012, at 11:20 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>> >
>> >> Is there a general rule about breaking English words with doubled
>> >> consonants into syllables, either in speaking or in writing?  For
>> >> example, "canning" would be spelled and pronounced "can-ning", with
>> >> an N sound beginning the second syllable.
>> >>
>> >> My speech says such a rule is not applicable to speaking.  For
>> >> example, I don't say "stop-ping" but rather -- I think --
>> >> "sto-pping".  (For my "canning" I can't tell.)
>> >>
>> >> But I assume it applies to writing.  Are their counter-examples?
>> >
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>> > The American Dialect Society -
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list