Thoughts on the genesis and the development of syllable cut in English

Robert Mailhammer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Since its renaissance in a series of papers by Theo Vennemann, the concept of syllable cut has been applied to a variety of both synchronic and diachronic problems, especially in the Germanic languages. Further investigation has been able to clarify the phonetic realisation of syllable cut, and has also explored different typological manifestations. However, although this phonological concept has been particularly successful in explaining the motivation behind sound changes in the history of English and German, the questions of how and why syllable cut originated have so far only been touched upon. This paper investigates the genesis and the development of syllable cut in English. It is argued that due to phonological developments in Old English it was possible to generalise the structural and segmental properties of syllables with geminate consonants to all closed syllables with short vowels. This is supported by a quantitative pilot study, which shows that Old English actually possessed a considerable amount of words with geminates, which could have formed a basis for the proposed generalisation. Comparative evidence from Latin and German renders further support for this assumption.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)261-282
    JournalAnglia: Zeitschrift fur englische Philologie
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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