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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The prosodic structure of Finnish and the theory of phonological government Millard, David


The goal of this thesis is to examine same of the claims of the Theory of Phonological Government in the light of data taken from the Finnish language. The Theory of Phonological Government describes the organization of segments into constituent groupings on the basis of government relations established at the level of Underlying Representation. These prosodic constituents are related to each other, again in terms of government. While these prosodic constituents are functionally similar to traditional notions of the syllable, division of a surface string into syllables does not necessarily yield the relations predicted by the theory. Government Theory, then, makes predictions which are different from those of other syllable theories and these predictions can be tested. The Finnish language exhibits a number of phonological processes that are sensitive to prosodic structure and thus offers an excellent test case for the theory. Chapter One presents an overview of the theory and the predictions it makes. Chapter Two examines same general phonological characteristics of Finnish. In Chapter Three I examine two prosodically-influenced segmental deletion processes that interact with each other and shows how Government Theory accounts for than in a principled fashion with minimal appeal to specific 'rules' of deletion. In Chapter Four I examine the process of Consonant Gradation, a mutation process that is driven by syllable structure. In Chapter Five I demonstrate that certain surface strings of segments that appear to be CVVC and CVCC syllables are best treated as being other than syllables and show how the theory not only accounts for the data but also predicts the existence of such non-syllabic strings. Finally, in Chapter Six I resume the discussion of Consonant Gradation and examine the nature of some exceptional gradation forms, showing how the theory accounts for these more unusual forms.

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