Syllable structure and stratification in Bangla

Somdev Kar 1  and Hubert Truckenbrodt 2
  • 1 Indian Institute of Technology Ropar (IIT Ropar), Rupnagar, India
  • 2 Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics (ZAS), Berlin, Germany
Somdev Kar and Hubert Truckenbrodt


This study attempts to analyse the permissible syllable structures and the aspiration and voicing of word-initial and word-final segments in the syllable structure of Bangla. A corpus study leads to a detailed analysis of Bangla syllable structure restrictions, relative to the three traditional strata of the Bangla lexicon, namely, Native Bangla (NB, Tadbhava), Sanskrit borrowings (SB, Tatsama and Ardha-Tatsama), and other borrowings (OB, Deshi and Bideshi), following Ito and Mester’s work on the Japanese lexicon. Complex codas are allowed only in OB. Complex onsets are ruled out in NB while they have the maximal form s+C+liquid in SB and OB. There is no onset maximisation: Medial clusters in all strata avoid complex onsets if a consonant can be syllabified into the preceding coda (Vp.lV rather than V.plV). Aspiration is banned from the coda in NB but not generally in SB and OB, where restrictions that are more complex obtain. Obstruent voicing contrasts are present in onset and coda, but voicing agreement is enforced in obstruent clusters. Analyses of these restrictions are presented in Optimality Theory: the different strata of the lexicon may have different phonologies, i. e. different constraint ranking.

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The journal provides a peer-reviewed forum for publishing original research articles and reviews in the field of South Asian languages and linguistics, with a focus on descriptive, functional and typological investigations. Descriptive analyses are encouraged to the extent that they present analyses of lesser-known languages, based on original fieldwork. Other areas covered by the journal include language change and sociolinguistics.