The Formal Dynamism of Categories: Stops vs. Fricatives, Primitivity vs. Simplicity

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Ulfsbjorninn, Shanti (2008)

Minimalist Phonology (MP; Pöchtrager 2006) constructs its theory based on the phonological epistemological principle (Kaye 2001) and exposes the arbitrary nature of standard Government Phonology (sGP) and strict-CV (sCV), particularly with reference to their confusion of melody and structure.\ud \ud For Pöchtrager, these are crucially different, concluding that place of articulation is melodic (expressed with elements), while manner of articulation is structural. In this model, the heads (xN and xO) can license and incorporate the length of the other into their own interpretation, that is xN influences xO projections as well as its own and vice versa. This dynamism is an aspect of the whole framework and this paper in particular will show that stops and fricatives evidence a plasticity of category and that, although fricatives are simpler in structure, stops are the more primitive of the two.\ud \ud This will be achieved phonologically through simply unifying the environment of application of the licensing forces within Pöchtrager's otherwise sound onset structure. In doing so, we automatically make several predictions about language acquisition and typology and show how lenition in Qiang (Sino-Tibetan) can be more elegantly explained.
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