Syllable weight and duration: A rhyme/intervals comparison

Anya Lunden


Steriade (2012) proposed intervals as a more appropriate syllable weight domain than rhymes. This study explores how interval weight cashes out as duration across word positions and compares this to a rhyme-based account. The data reported on in Lunden (2013), from native speakers of Norwegian (a language in which (C)VC syllables are heavy only non-finally) is reanalyzed with intervals. Lunden found that syllable rhymes in all three positions, if taken as a percentage of the average V rhyme in that word position, fell into a coherent pattern for weight. It is shown that interval durations allow for a similar, albeit less robust, pattern. The data from Lunden’s (2013) perception experiment that tested the correlation between increased vowel duration and listeners’ classification of syllable weight is also recast with interval durations, and the importance of the proportional increase over the raw increase, originally found for the rhyme data, is found to hold for the interval data. Thus, taking intervals as the weight domain is shown to result in reasonable durational relations between interval weights, although interval durations show less separation between some light and heavy units than the rhyme durations do. 


syllable weight; duration; rhymes; intervals

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