Prosthetic Consonants and the Question of Nuclear Impact. Examples from Slavic Languages

Anna Bloch-Rozmej


The article focuses on the problem of consonant prosthesis in a number of Slavic languages with w view to establishing both the context and trigger of the process. The phenomenon is analyzed from the perspective of Government Phonology (Kaye, Lowenstamm, and Vergnaud 1985, 1990; Charette 1991; Harris 1994; Gussmann 2007; Cyran 2003; Bloch-Rozmej 2008) which advocates a hierarchical model of phonological structure. The evidence examined here comes from Polish, Sorbian, Russian, Czech, Ukrainian and Belorussian. In all these languages consonant prosthesis is realized in the onset of the word-initial syllable. Thus, we also discuss the problem of the initial syllable prominence and the significance of a licensing relation that binds the members of the initial CV domain. It is proposed that the nucleus which determines the identity of the onset licensee is directly responsible for the excrescence of a prosthetic consonant, both prosodically and melodically. Hence, in order to fully understand the nature of the development, the analysis of the vowels involved in the process in terms of their segmental structure is needed. It will be demonstrated that the elements which build vocalic segments extend their domain of interpretation to affect the positions preceding them in the structure of the word-initial syllables. The problem of consonant prosthesis will be examined as an instantiation of the cross-linguistic tendency to strengthen segments in word-initial contexts.


consonant prosthesis; Slavic languages; syllable prominence; licensing; elements; nucleus

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