Retroflexion in Norwegian
AuthorSolhaug, Tor Håvard
This thesis deals with the class of retroflex segments in Norwegian, their phonological status and their distribution with respect to prosodic categories. There is no general consensus regarding the phonological status of the retroflexes: some phonologists posit them as underlying segments while others take them to be clusters of rhotics and coronals underlyingly. The former view is shown to be insufficient because they do not contrast with their historical origin; retroflexion is in fact reversible in most cases. It is instead argued that the retroflexes do not have an underlying status in Norwegian, but that they are merely phonetic manifestations of trivial assimilation processes. The driving force behind retroflexion has usually been assumed to be articulatory. The view advocated here focuses instead on the prosodic aspects of retroflexion. More specifically, it is argued that retroflexion is driven by the need to avoid rhotics in coda position. There are exceptions to this, but these are shown to be governed by stress and syllable weight considerations. The analysis may also be extended to account for general r-loss in front of non-coronals as well as occurrences of retroflexes outside their historical phonological context. Thus, the general picture that arises is that retroflexion reflects a need in Norwegian for coronal consonant clusters to agree in their place of articulation.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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