Underlying and derived glides in Middle High German

Abstract

The present study investigates the phonology of glides in Middle High German. On the basis of surface contrasts between prevocalic nuclear glides in syllable-final position ([VG.V]) and postvocalic glides in onset position ([V.GV]), it is argued that the latter were underlying glides (e.g. the /w/ in [le.wə] ‘lion’) and that the former were glides derived from vowels (e.g. the offglide [o̯] in the diphthong [uo̯] from /uo/). Underlying glides are argued to be [+consonantal], while nuclear glides ‒ like the vowels from which they derive ‒ are [‒consonantal].

The analysis of Middle High German bears on several debates involving glides in the theoretical literature. First, a treatment with an underlying glide in /VGV/ cannot be reanalyzed by treating the vowels as peaks (e.g. Harris & Kaisse 1999 for Argentinian Spanish). Second, the treatment of underlying glides as [+consonantal] is to be preferred over alternatives which analyze those sounds as [‒vocalic] (e.g. Nevins & Chitoran 2008 for several languages). Third, an analysis of nuclear structure is adopted (from Harris & Kaisse 1999) which enables one to interpret which element in a complex nucleus is the peak and which is the nonpeak without stipulation. Fourth, the contrastive syllabification of surface glides (i.e. [VG.V] vs. [V.GV]) is shown to be a diagnostic of underlying glide languages that has not been discussed in the literature to date.

Keywords

glide, hiatus, diphthong, syllable structure, syllabification, Middle High German

How to Cite

Hall, T., (2017) “Underlying and derived glides in Middle High German”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1): 54. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.170

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Authors

Tracy Alan Hall (Department of Germanic Studies, Indiana University, 355 North Jordan Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana)

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