Monday, April 25, 2005

Syllabifying vexedly

(Caveat: there may be IPA mistakes below!)

Here’s a question for any morphophonologically sophisticated readers out there, following up on something I noticed a few months ago:

As we all know, the adjectival participle in English is formed with the same -ed suffix as the past tense and verbal participles, and has the same allomorphs /t/, /d/ and /əd/, conditioned by the same phonological environments (modulo a few morphologically specified exceptions; see some of Dave Embick’s recent work).

But adjectives can be subject to a further morphological process in English: you can usually adverbialize a participial adjective with -ly:



But, in my judgment, when certain such adjectives have -ly added, their -t or -d allomorph of -ed has to become syllabic. Looking at *edly sequences that actually have entries in the metadictionary, I see things like

marked /markt/
markedly /mar.kə

perplexed /pər.plɛkst/
perplexedly /pər.plɛk.sə

perturbed /pə.tʊrbd/
perturbedly /pə.tʊr.bə

resigned /rə.saɪnd/
resignedly /rə.saɪ.nə

fixed /fɪkst/
fixedly /fɪk.sə

confused /kən.fjuzd/
confusedly /kən.fju.zə

amazed /ə.meɪzd/
amazedly /ə.meɪ.zə


I noticed this when I made one up writing to a student, 'relaxedly', from adj. ppl. 'relaxed' /rə.lækst/; thinking about it, I felt I had to pronounce this /rə.læk.sə, not /rə.læ

It’s easy to show that this is something about -ed, not something about the phonological shape of the stem to which -ly attaches, by comparing pairs like the following

blind~blindly /blaɪ with resigned~resignedly /rə.saɪ.nə (not /rə.saɪ

and sound~soundly /saʊ with renowned~renownedly: (Actually I don't really have a judgment on this one, but some dictionaries seem to be saying it has to be /rə.naʊ.nə, not /rə.naʊ

So the generalization so far is as follows, I think: when a /t/ or /d/coda allomorph of -ed follows a consonant, it is resyllabified with an epenthetic ə as /Cəd/ when -ly is attached.

Syllabic 'l', unsurprisingly, gets treated like a vowel, not a consonant, so when /d/ follows it, no epenthesis is required:

unbridled /ən.braɪ.dld/ unbridledly /ən.braɪ, not /ən.braɪd.lə

Syllabic ‘r’ similarly, when followed by a /d/ allomorph of -ed, doesn’t need epenthesis:

e.g. good-naturedly = /gʊd neɪ.tʃ not /gʊd neɪ.tʃə.rə; also
bewilderedly, self-centeredly, laboredly, measuredly, ill-mannerdly

But consonantal -r, following a stressed vowel, does need the epenthetic vowel:

assured ~ assuredly: /ə.ʃʊ.rə; also
endearedly, preparedly, declaredly, deploredly

I think one could turn this into an argument that there really are two syllables in words like tired, inspired, retired, the second being a syllabic /r/, because they don’t need an epenthetic schwa when suffixed with -ly:

tired~tiredly, inspired~inspiredly.

If they were like 'prepare', etc., syllabically speaking, then epenthesis ought to be required.

A similar thing seems to be going on with stems with stressed syllables ending in a diphthongized vowel, too (compare to unstressed ones like 'worriedly', on the right); seems like the offglide is treated consonantally in that it triggers resyllabification

avowedly /ə.vaʊ.wə worriedly /wʊ (not /wʊr.ri.jə
appliedly /əplaɪ.jə hurriedly /hʊ
cowedly /kaʊ.wə studiedly /stʌ; also

renewedly variedly
allowedly unweariedly
dignifiedly frenziedly

Some judgments are a bit fuzzy, e.g. some stems ending in -z seem to be fine without resyllabification (though I can also resyllabify):

uncivilized /ən.sɪ.və.laɪzd/ uncivilizedly /ən.sɪ.və.laɪ seems ok, although /ən.sɪ.və.laɪ.zə is also fine to my ear.

So, I'm wondering if this is something about English (adjectival) -ed that has been described or analyzed somewhere before? And is it productive in most Englishes?


Blogger Claire said...

My judgements are basically the same as yours, except where you had both options I preferred the one with the epenthesis. And words like tired are disyllabic for me already - tajəd / tajədlɪ (sorry for crappy IPA).

historically it's not epenthesis of course, it's vowel deletion elsewhere - a very nice case of rule reversal.

8:08 PM  

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