Abstract and Keywords
This article explores issues relating to the organizing structures of speech. Combinatorial phonological units are discrete, qualitative, and context-invariant, while speech is continuous and highly context-dependent. A gesture is a functional unit of action that achieves a specified task. Laboratory phonology work has developed both theoretical models and empirical methods following the consequences of defining syllable structure as patterns or modes of temporal coordination among phonetic primitives. The approach is possible when the primitives are articulatory units that have observable, dynamic temporal properties among which abstract coordination relations can be defined. One of the significant implications of the coordination topology model of syllable structure is that it opens the possibility of using temporal properties of articulatory events to infer syllabification. Syllable-based accounts refer either to the syllabic affiliation of segments such as lenition or neutralization of coda consonants, vowel epenthesis in complex codas, or to syllable shape such as vowel laxing or shortening in closed syllables, stress attraction to heavy syllables. Words composed of more frequent syllables are produced faster than words composed of less frequent syllables. Durational effects used to implement prosodic structure are traditionally described as lengthenings and shortenings implying default phrase-medial monosyllabic durations adjusted by the speakers.
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