Structural complexity and "strong positions" in government phonology

Abstract : This paper examines the relationship between the structural complexity of segments and phonologically strong positions with respect to changes involving secondary places of articulation like in kʷ > p /__V. It will be shown that this change in strong (pre-vocalic) phonological positions is a genuine case of phonological strengthening and that the change also fits in with weak positions. In the framework assumed here, government phonology (Harris & Kaye 1990, Harris & Lindsey 1995, Cyran 1997, Backley & Takahashi 1998, Ségéral & Scheer 1999, Dienes & Szigetvári 1999, etc.), there is a direct connection between a phonological event and its phonological environment and this connection rests on the governing and licensing relations obtaining between positions in the string. After first presenting cases often cited to illustrate the direct connection between an onset (a strong phonological position) and segmental strengthening (segmental complexity), the more controversial case of labialized velars becoming plain labials will be shown to occur in exactly the same strong phonological context. This means that processes where secondary places of articulation become primary places of articulation in strong phonological positions are genuine examples of strengthening.
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Daniel Huber. Structural complexity and "strong positions" in government phonology. 2013. ⟨hal-00978824⟩

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