14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Sesquisyllables of English: The Structure of Vowel-Liquid Syllables

Lisa M. Lavoie, Abigail C. Cohn

Cornell University, USA

We investigate monosyllabic words with rimes consisting of a diphthong or non-low tense vowel followed by a liquid, such as file, foul, foil, feel, fool, fail; fire, flour and foyer, which we term sesquisyllables. Evidence from phonological distribution, speaker intuition, metrical properties, variant pronunciations, and an acoustic study converges on the interpretation that these are trimoraic monosyllables. Comparison of durations for V, Vd, Vl, and Vld rimes for low vowels and diphthongs revealed systematic duration differences attributable to proposed mora count. The CV and CVd cases, both argued to be bimoraic, are closely parallel in duration. However there is a systematic difference for the CVl and CVld cases, argued to be bimoraic for low vowels and trimoraic for diphthongs. We account for these results by integrating the assignment of duration to moras and segments.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lavoie, Lisa M. / Cohn, Abigail C. (1999): "Sesquisyllables of English: the structure of vowel-liquid syllables", In ICPhS-14, 109-112.