The Role of Prosody in Russian Voicing

Abstract

Though Russian voicing assimilation and final devoicing have received a great deal of attention in the literature on generative phonology, there are still basic aspects of the data that are not widely understood or agreed upon. They can be unified under the question, What role does prosody play in the Russian voicing facts? The answer given here will in some ways affirm the role of prosody in the Russian facts and in others exclude it. On the affirmative side, Russian voicing assimilation cannot be understood without reference to higher prosodic units such as the prosodic word. I will present an analysis of the word-level prosody of Russian inspired by Ito and Mester (2007; 2009; see also this volume) (an approach also pursued by Selkirk to appear), one which eschews the ‘Clitic Group’ and other categories apart from the Phonological Word and the Phonological Phrase. On the negative side, I argue that characterizing the triggers and targets of the voicing processes by means of syllable position cannot work for Russian; the account instead requires a cue-based approach, of the sort advocated by Steriade.

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