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Evidence for sk in German as a Complex Segment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2020

Sarah M. B. Fagan*
The University of Iowa
Department of German / Department of Linguistics, 111 Phillips Hall, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1323, USA []


This squib provides evidence from the superlative in support of Wiese’s (1996) position that s (sibilant) + stop sequences in German behave as complex segments. With the exception of the sequence /sk/, the consonants that require schwa epenthesis before the superlative suffix are all coronal obstruents: nettest- [ˈnɛtəst] ‘nicest’, süßest- [ˈzyːsəst] ‘sweetest’, frischest- [ˈfrɪʃəst] ‘freshest’, brüskest- [ˈbrʏskəst] ‘most abrupt’. If one assumes that the sequence /sk/ is a single, complex segment with the feature [coronal] as well as [dorsal], the formation of the superlative can be accounted for with a simple rule of schwa epenthesis.*

© Society for Germanic Linguistics 2020 

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I would like to thank the anonymous referees for JGL for their useful comments on earlier versions of this squib.


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