Mo Shuile Togam Suas  
Volume 25 (1), Spring 2004

Edited by
Ilana Mezhevich and Michael B. Dobrovolsky

Spanish Rhymes: a Challenge to Constraints on Syllable Structure?

Antonio A. González Poot

University of Calgary


A standard assumption in Onset/Rhyme theory is that, crosslinguistically, rhymes never license more than two position; the occurrence of additional segments is limited to word edges and licensing is carried out by higher prosodic units. Spanish three-positional word-medial rhymes seem to challenge this assumption. Furthermore, the third position in this transgressive syllable structure is systematically occupied by /s/, one of the only two segments of the Spanish phonemic inventory that can become invisible for matters of stress assignment. A closer look at the data reveals that this prima facie transgressive structure tends to occur at morpheme boundaries: few Spanish roots contain three-segmental rhymes. The systematic assignment of secondary stress on the prefix or the first member of compounds in which the transgressive rhyme is found, and the presence of primary stress on roots with three-segmental word-medial rhymes become crucial in an analysis that relies on a looser conception of extraprosodicity in order to account for the Spanish data: /s/ – the transgressing segment – is licensed by an available foot node projected by the stress bearing three-segmental rhyme.

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