Title

The Roll of Syllabic Consonants in Georgian

Presenter Information

Lindsay Combs

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Georgian, a South Caucasian (Kartvelian) language spoken in the Caucasus region, is known for its phonological complexities such as strings of consonants in a single word. For example, the initial consonant cluster in the word 'prckvna' (to peel) contains six consonants in a row (Butskhrikidze 2002). In comparison, consonant clusters in English have at most only three sounds (e.g., 'split'). What is important to notice in these consonant sequences are sounds called sonorants (e.g., the 'r' in 'prckvna'). Sonorants are consonants that have a high acoustic energy and can sometimes be syllabic, or play the role of a vowel by acting as the syllable nucleus. This occurs in English with words like 'puddle' and 'chasm', where there is no vowel in the second syllable and 'l' and 'm' respectively act as the nucleus. This study aims to analyze whether or not Georgian sonorants are syllabic, a topic that is highly debated in the literature. Working with a native speaker of Georgian, I used rhythmic techniques to identify syllables in words with sonorants and consonant clusters to determine if a sonorant acted as a syllable nucleus or not. I propose that sonorants do act syllabically in specific phonological environments, which serves to break up consonant clusters. However, there are restrictions on this behavior. Factors such as speed, context, style and word isolation alter whether or not sonorants will be syllabic. My findings have implications for Georgian linguistics by providing more insight into a currently debated topic. Additionally, this research makes a significant contribution to our understanding of syllables and syllabic theory in the field of phonology. This project also provides us with more knowledge about how sound systems can act similarly across unrelated languages, even when other aspects of the languages remain extremely diverse.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 13th, 9:00 AM Apr 13th, 9:20 AM

The Roll of Syllabic Consonants in Georgian

UC 333

Georgian, a South Caucasian (Kartvelian) language spoken in the Caucasus region, is known for its phonological complexities such as strings of consonants in a single word. For example, the initial consonant cluster in the word 'prckvna' (to peel) contains six consonants in a row (Butskhrikidze 2002). In comparison, consonant clusters in English have at most only three sounds (e.g., 'split'). What is important to notice in these consonant sequences are sounds called sonorants (e.g., the 'r' in 'prckvna'). Sonorants are consonants that have a high acoustic energy and can sometimes be syllabic, or play the role of a vowel by acting as the syllable nucleus. This occurs in English with words like 'puddle' and 'chasm', where there is no vowel in the second syllable and 'l' and 'm' respectively act as the nucleus. This study aims to analyze whether or not Georgian sonorants are syllabic, a topic that is highly debated in the literature. Working with a native speaker of Georgian, I used rhythmic techniques to identify syllables in words with sonorants and consonant clusters to determine if a sonorant acted as a syllable nucleus or not. I propose that sonorants do act syllabically in specific phonological environments, which serves to break up consonant clusters. However, there are restrictions on this behavior. Factors such as speed, context, style and word isolation alter whether or not sonorants will be syllabic. My findings have implications for Georgian linguistics by providing more insight into a currently debated topic. Additionally, this research makes a significant contribution to our understanding of syllables and syllabic theory in the field of phonology. This project also provides us with more knowledge about how sound systems can act similarly across unrelated languages, even when other aspects of the languages remain extremely diverse.