Q: Minimal words?

Larry Trask larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk
Sun Jan 18 13:54:54 UTC 1998

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Bobby Bryant writes:
> Does the notion of a prosodic "minimal word" find a happy home among
> historical linguists?  In particular, can anyone cite a case where
> it has been plausibly invoked as the driving force behind some
> change, or as the endorsement for an exception to an otherwise
> regular change?
Yes; there are a number of such cases.  M. Kenstowicz (1994),
Phonology in Generative Grammar, Blackwell, p. 640 ff., cites several
examples of historical changes which were blocked whenever they would
have produced a violation of a minimal word requirement.  Also, if I
remember correctly, Bob Dixon's grammar of Yidiny reports a conspiracy
in that language to ensure that every word-form contains an even
number of syllables.
Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH
larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk

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