Reanalyzing final consonant extrametricality

A proportional theory of weight
Original Paper


Many languages, including Norwegian, exhibit CVC weight asymmetry, where CVC is heavy but behaves as light word-finally. This asymmetry is proposed to be motivated by facts of phonetic length and human perception. A production experiment in Norwegian shows a parallel proportional increase for the rimes of heavy syllables across positions. A theory of weight is advanced in which a syllable shape in a given position is only heavy if it is, on average, sufficiently proportionally longer than the rime of a CV syllable in the same position. While a CVC syllable reaches this proportional increase threshold non-finally, it fails to do so word-finally. Final lengthening affects word-final syllables, causing there to be a smaller proportional increase between the rime of a final CV and final CVC. A further study finds perception to behave as predicted; that is, larger raw increases are needed to reach a sufficient length for word final syllables to be categorized as heavy. The proportional increase theory of weight provides a phonetically and perceptually motivated explanation for CVC weight asymmetry.


Extrametricality Final lengthening Mora NonFinality Norwegian Syllable weight 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Boersma, Paul, and David Weenink. 1992–2009. Praat, a system for doing phonetics by computer. Downloaded from:
  2. Broselow, Ellen, Su-I Chen, and Marie Huffman. 1997. Syllable weight: Convergence of phonology and phonetics. Phonology 14: 47–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cambier-Langeveld, Tina. 1997. The domain of final lengthening in the production of Dutch. In Linguistics in the Netherlands 1997, eds. J. Coerts and H. de Hoop, 13–24, John Benjamins, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  4. Chomsky, Noam, and Morris Halle. 1968. The sound pattern of English. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  5. Crystal, Thomas, and Arthur House. 1990. Articulation rate and duration of syllables and stress groups in connected speech. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 88(1): 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Delattre, P. 1966. A comparison of syllable length conditioning among languages. International Review of Applied Linguistics 4: 183–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elert, Claes-Christian. 1964. Phonologic studies of quantity in Swedish: Based on material from Stockholm speakers. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksells.Google Scholar
  8. Eliasson, Stig. 1978. Swedish quantity revisite. In Nordic prosody: Papers from a symposium, 111–122. Lund, Sweden: Department of Linguistics, Lund University.Google Scholar
  9. Fintoft, Knut. 1961. The duration of some Norwegian speech sounds. Phonetica 7: 19–39.Google Scholar
  10. Fretheim, Thorstein. 1983. Norwegian stress and quantity reconsidered. In Prosodi/Prosody, eds. Ernst Håkon Jahr and Ove Lorentz, 315–334. Oslo: Novus. Originally published 1969 in Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap 23: 76–96.Google Scholar
  11. Goedemans, R.W.N. 1998. Weightless segments: A phonetic and phonological study concerning the metrical irrelevance of syllable onsets. LOT Dissertations No 9. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.Google Scholar
  12. Gordon, Matthew. 1999. Syllable weight: Phonetics, phonology, and typology. PhD diss, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  13. Gordon, Matthew. 2002. A phonetically-driven account of syllable weight. Language 78: 51–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gordon, Matthew, Carmen Jany, Carlos Nash, and Nobutaka Takara. 2010. Syllable structure and extrametricality: A typological and phonetic study. Studies in Language 34(1): 131–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grondin, Simon, Bastien Ouellet, and Marie-Éva Roussel. 2001. About optimal timing and stability of Weber fraction for duration discrimination. Acoustical Science and Technology 22: 370–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haugen, Einar. 1967. On the rules of Norwegian tonality. Language 43: 185–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hayes, Bruce. 1981. Metrical theory of stress rules. PhD diss, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. [Revised version of doctoral dissertation (1980) distributed by Indiana University Linguistics Club, Bloomington. Later published by Garland Press, New York, 1985].Google Scholar
  18. Hayes, Bruce. 1995. Metrical stress theory: Principles and case studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  19. Henry, F.M. 1948. Discrimination of duration of a sound. Journal of Experimental Psychology 38: 734–742.Google Scholar
  20. Horne, Merle, Eva Strangert, and Mattias Heldner. 1995. Prosodic boundary strength in Swedish: Final lengthening and silent interval duration. In Proceedings of the XIIIth international congress of phonetic sciences, 170–173. Stockholm, Sweden.Google Scholar
  21. Kiparsky, Paul. 1984. On the lexical phonology of Icelandic. In Nordic prosody III, papers from a symposium, eds. Claes-Christian Elert, Johansson Iréne and Eva Strangert, 135–164. Stockholm, Sweden: University of Umeå.Google Scholar
  22. Kiparsky, Paul. 1991. Catalexis. Ms., Stanford University and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.Google Scholar
  23. Klatt, Dennis. 1976. Linguistic uses of segmental duration in English: Acoustic and perceptual evidence. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 59(5): 1208–1221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kristoffersen, Gjert. 1991. Aspects of Norwegian syllable structure. PhD diss, University of Tromsø, Norway.Google Scholar
  25. Kristoffersen, Gjert. 2000. The phonology of Norwegian. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Lindblom, Björn. 1968. Temporal organization of syllable production. In Speech transmission laboratory quarterly progress, vol 2–3, 1–6. Stockholm, Sweden: Royal Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  27. Lindblom, Björn, and Karin Rapp. 1973. Some temporal regularities of spoken Swedish. PILUS 21.Google Scholar
  28. Lorentz, Ove. 1995. Tonal prominence and alignment. In Phonology at Santa Cruz, volume 4: Papers on stress, accent, and alignment, eds. Haruo Kubozono, Ove Lorentz, and Rachel Walker, 39–58. Santa Cruz: Linguistics Research Center, UC.Google Scholar
  29. Lunden, Anya. 2006. Weight, final lengthening and stress: A phonetic and phonological case study of Norwegian. PhD diss, University of California, Santa Cruz. Published by Edwin Mellon as A Phonetically-Motivated Phonological Analysis of Syllable Weight and Stress in the Norwegian Language, 2010.Google Scholar
  30. Lunden, Anya. 2011. The weight of final syllables in English. In Proceedings of the 28th West Coast conference on formal linguistics, eds. Mary Byram Washburn et al., 152–159. Cascadilla Proceedings Project., document #2447.
  31. McCarthy, John. 1979. Formal problems in Semitic phonology and morphology. PhD diss, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  32. McCarthy, John, and Alan Prince. 1986. Prosodic morphology. Ms., University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Brandeis University.Google Scholar
  33. Mohanan, K.P. 1979. Word Stress in Hindi, Malayalam, and Sindhi. Talk given to Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT, Cambridge, as reported in Hayes 1981.Google Scholar
  34. Myers, Scott, and Ben Hansen. 2007. The origin of vowel length neutralization in final position: Evidence from Finnish speakers. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 25: 157–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nooteboom, Sieb. 1997. Prosody of speech: Melody and rhythm. In The handbook of phonetic sciences, eds. William Hardcastle and J.D.M.H. Laver, 640–673. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  36. Oller, D.K. 1973. The effect of position in utterance on speech segment duration in English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 54(5): 1235–1247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Prince, Alan. 1980. A metrical theory for Estonian quantity. Linguistic Inquiry 11: 511–562.Google Scholar
  38. Prince, Alan, and Paul Smolensky. 1993. Optimality theory: Constraint interaction in generative grammar. New Brunswick: Ms. Rutgers University; Boulder: University of Colorado.Google Scholar
  39. Riad, Tomas. 1992. Structures in Germanic prosody. PhD diss, Stockholm University.Google Scholar
  40. Rice, Curt. 1999. Norwegian. In Word prosodic systems in the languages of Europe, ed. Harry van der Hulst 545–53. Mouton de Gruyter: Berlin.Google Scholar
  41. Rice, Curt. 2006. Norwegian stress and quantity: The implications of loanwords. Lingua 116: 1171–1194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rosenthall, Sam, and Harry van der Hulst. 1999. Weight-by-position by position. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 17(3): 499–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Selkirk, Elisabeth. 1981. Epenthesis and degenerate syllables in Cairene Arabic. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 3: 209–232.Google Scholar
  44. Selmer, E.W. 1966. Fremmedordbok, 6 edn. Oslo: Aschehoug and Co.Google Scholar
  45. Spaelti, Phillip. 1994. Weak edges and final geminates in Swiss German. In The proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society, ed. Merce Gonzalez, vol 24, 573–588. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  46. Steriade, Donca. 1980. Degenerate syllables and the accentual system of Ancient Greek. Ms., Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  47. Steriade, Donca. 1984. Glides and vowels in Romanian. In Proceedings of the tenth annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 47–64.Google Scholar
  48. Weinstock, John. 1970. A sketch of Norwegian phonology. In Nordic languages and modern linguistics, 572–598. Reykjavik: Vísindafélag Íslendinga.Google Scholar
  49. Wightman, Colin, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, Mari Ostendorf, and Patti Price. 1992. Segmental durations in the vicinity of prosodic phrase boundaries. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91(3): 1707–1717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Witting, Claes. 1977. Studies in Swedish generative phonology. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksells.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Linguistics Program, Department of EnglishCollege of William & MaryWilliamsburgUSA

Personalised recommendations