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Frequency of Consonant Clusters in French

  • G. L. Bursill-Hall (a1)

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In a recent article in Language, Sol Saporta pointed out that structural linguists had, for the most part, analysed sequences of phonemes but had ignored the frequencies of combinations. He goes on to produce an interesting and workable hypothesis, i.e. “the average frequency of a consonant cluster is a function of the difference between the phonemes in the cluster; low frequencies are expected for clusters which are either extremely similar or extremely dissimilar; high frequencies are expected for clusters which are at neither extreme.” What should be demonstrated by scholars of linguistics is that the frequency of these combinations is not haphazard.

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(1) Saporta, S., “Frequency of Consonant Clusters”, Language 31.1 (1955), 2530.
(2) Vander Beke, G. E., French Word Book, Publications of the American & Canadian Committees on Modern Languages, New York, 1929.
(3) Guiraud, P., Les Caractères statistiques du vocabulaire. Paris, 1954 (p. 25).
(4) Trnka, B., “General Laws of Phonemic Combinations”, TCLP VI (1936), 5762.
(5) Jakobson, R., Fant, C.G.M. & Halle, M., Preliminaries to Speech Analysis: The Distinctive Features and their Correlates. Cambridge, Mass., 1952.
(6) Troubetzkoy, N.S., Principes de Phonologie (Traduction J. Cantineau). Paris, 1949.
(7) Malécot, A., “The Elision of the French Mute-e within Consonantal Clusters”, Lingua V. 1 (1955), 4560.
(8) Jakobson, R. & Lotz, J., “Notes on the French Phonemic Pattern”, Word V.2 (1949), 151-8.
(9) Fischer-Jørgensen, E., “On the Definition of Phoneme Categories on a Distributional Basis”, Acta Linguistica VII. 1-2 (1952), 839.
(10) Arnold, G., “A Phonological Approach to Vowel, Consonant and Syllable in Modern French”, Lingua V. 3(1956), 253287.
(11) Halle, M., “The Strategy of Phonemics”, Word X. 2-3 (1954), 197209.

Frequency of Consonant Clusters in French

  • G. L. Bursill-Hall (a1)

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