Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 26, 2018

The diachrony of East Asian prosodic templates

Joseph Salmons ORCID logo and Huibin Zhuang ORCID logo
From the journal Linguistics

Abstract

Typical words in some East Asian languages, including Chinese, have reduced historically from disyllabic (CV·CV(C)) to monosyllabic (C(C)V(C)) and then open monosyllables (CV). More recently, in some of those languages, many monosyllabic CV forms again appear as disyllabic (CV·CV). The former developments result from a variety of apparently unconnected segmental changes. In the latter, they often reflect morphological innovations, like compounding and affixation. That is, apparently disparate segmental phonological processes reduced monosyllabic word templates and apparently disparate morphological and phonological processes have created new disyllables, which can all be captured in terms of preferred prosodic templates. We integrate these areal and genetic patterns into a growing literature on prosodic templates in diachrony, expanding the set of languages and patterns. That body of work has focused on sound changes that bring words into alignment with templates while our cases studies also involve clear changes in the templatic structures themselves. Finally, the patterns reviewed here resemble cycles of prosodic change, driven by tensions between reduction and minimal word constraints; we suggest that these phenomena show ‘bare’ prosodic cyclicity without the grammatical or functional ramifications of familiar cycles of change.

Acknowledgments

The authors’ names are in alphabetical order. The paper developed from ideas and data from the second author and were elaborated by both together. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the two anonymous Linguistics reviewers and the editorial board for their valuable suggestions and constructive comments. We are deeply grateful to Shengli Feng for insightful comments on a very early draft of this paper and we also thank the following for comments and discussions on this topic and earlier versions of the paper: Joshua Bousquette, San Duanmu, Shengli Feng, Elly van Gelderen, Baopeng Ma, Monica Macaulay, Martha Ratliff, Laura Smith, Adam Ussishkin, HaixiongYan, Mengjie Zhang the Historical Linguistics Reading Group at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Linguistics Reading Group at Henan University. The usual disclaimers apply.

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Published Online: 2018-05-26
Published in Print: 2018-06-26

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston