Evidence for Sonority-Driven Stress

Shu-hao Shih, Paul de Lacy

Abstract

We argue that there is no adequate evidence for ‘sonority-driven stress’, building on Shih (2018a,b), and disagreeing with Kenstowicz (1997), de Lacy (2002a, 2004, 2006), and others. More precisely, we argue that there is no phonological mechanism that induces metrical structure to deviate from its default position for reasons that involve the direct interaction of segmental sonority and foot form. After reviewing the history of sonority-driven stress theory, we identify two broad issues with extant evidence: the lack of methodological reliability, and misattribution of cause. We argue that impressionistic descriptions of sonority-driven stress are not reliable, in the technical sense of evidentiary validity. We further argue that apparent sonority-sensitivity in foot form is a side-effect of either allophony or minor syllable behavior.

Keywords

phonology; metrical structure; sonority-driven stress; sonority; stress; evidence

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