Syncope, Syllabification and Laryngeal Licensing in Icelandic

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Stefon Michael Flego


Although preaspiration has been discussed extensively in the literature on Icelandic phonology (Thráinsson 1978, Oresnik 1978, Ringen 1999), previous analyses have missed the crucial relationship between preaspiration and prosody, sonority, syllabification and the licensing of laryngeal contrasts in the language. In this paper I will provide a novel OT analysis of preaspiration on the basis of synchronic alternations in disyllabic roots. I argue that this cross-linguistically uncommon phenomenon falls out rather naturally from other independently motivated (and relatively unremarkable) properties of Icelandic prosody, sonority, syllabification, and laryngeal phonology. Its typological rarity is therefore best illuminated by a complex interaction of unrelated constraints.


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