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Words with a non-coronal as final segment of a four-positional final sequence

This topic deals with four-positional word-final sequences with a non-coronal as final segment, exemplified by the words daalk /da:lk/ immediately, at once, baarch /ba:rɣ/ pig, waarm /va:rm/ warm, and earm /ɪərm/ arm; poor. Though for some of these words it can be argued that the two final consonants may be separated by the vowel schwa in underlying representation, this is not an option for all of them. Also, quite a few of these words have dialectal variants with a short instead of a long vowel, which makes for an unproblematical word-final sequence. But the existence of words with a long vowel cannot be denied. All in all then there remains a core of words with an exceptional, four-positional final sequence.


Next to the two phonological positions for the syllable rhyme, as expressed by the Rhyme Constraint, there is room for a regular third rhyme position, although only word-finally, as expressed by the Word Constraint. Most words are in conformity with these constraints, which implies that a short monophthong or a (short) rising diphthong is followed by at most two consonants, whereas a long monophthong or a falling or centring diphthong is followed by maximally one. The third rhyme position may be occupied by all sorts of consonants.

In general, all that goes beyond these three word-final positions is occupied by coronal obstruents. There are, however, words which exceed the word maximum with one non-coronal consonant, an overview of which is given below:

Example 1

Words which exceed the word maximum with one non-coronal consonant
a. Ending in a long vocalic sequence + /l/ + /{k/ɣ}/
daalk /da:lk/ immediately, at once
skielk /skiəlk/ in the near future
kwealk /kwɪəlk/ scarcely, hardly
moolk /mo:lk/ possibly
môlke /mɔ:lkə/ milk
baarch /ba:rɣ/ pig
bealch /bɪəlɣ/ trunk, body
b. Ending in a long vocalic sequence + /{l/r}/ + /m/
wâlm /vɔ:lm/ smother
alaarm /ala:rm/ alarm
waarm /va:rm/ warm
swaarm /swa:rm/ swarm
hoerm /huərm/ pet name of goat
earm /ɪərm/ arm; poor

The above words end in a non-coronal consonant: /k/, /ɣ/, or /m/. Do these count as plainly extrasyllabic segments, as do these words have an exceptionally long, four-positional rhyme, or is there another option?

It should be noted that the vowel schwa is easily inserted between the liquid and the stem-final consonant, so schwa might be assumed to be part of the underlying representation of these words. As to the nouns from (1b) allowing pluralization − swaarm, earm, and wâlm − this is not that unlikely (see also word-final sequences of a liquid and a nasal for an analysis of words ending in /-{l/r}m/ along these lines). These nouns have a plural in either -en or -s, according to dialect, so they can be assumed to end in /-{r/l}əm/ in one dialect and in /-{r/l}m/ in the other. In the latter case, they have the exceptional number of four rhymal positions. In this connection, it should be noted that, with the exception of waarm, they all have variants with a short monophthong: sw{a/e}rm /sw{a/ɛ}rm/ occurs alongside swaarm /swa:rm/, al{a/e}rm /al{a/ɛ}rm/ alongside alaarm /ala:rm/, harm /harm/ alongside hoerm /huərm/, and walm /vɔlm/ alongside wâlm /vɔ:lm/, whereas the noun earm arm is either /ɪər(ə)m/ (with a (long) centring diphthong) or /jɛr(ə)m/ (with a (short) rising diphthong). The short vowel and the rising diphthong make for a three-positional rhyme here.

On the face of it, pluralization yields a different picture for the words in (1a). The plural of baarch pig and bealch trunk, body is bargen /ba:rɣ+ən/ and bealgen /bɪəlɣ+ən/ (if the latter allows for pluralization at all); this argues against underlying representations in /-rəɣ/ and /-ləɣ/, viz. /ba:rəɣ/ and /bɪələɣ/, respectively. There is, however, an independent explanation for this. All words, complex or simplex, ending in the sequence /-əɣ/ belong to the category adjective; there is also a productive adjectivizing suffix -ich ( /-əɣ/), see -ich. The above observation can be rephrased as a generalization covering the entire Frisian lexicon:

a stem ending in the sequence -əɣ belongs to the category adjective

On the strength of this generalization, the nouns baarch and bealch cannot have the underlying representation /ba:rəɣ/ and /bɪələɣ/, which explains why they are pluralized with -en. It is very common for them to be realized with final [-əx] − as [ba:rəx] and [bɪ.ələx], respectively −, but this is due to (optional) schwa-epenthesis (see schwa insertion in coda clusters). In some dialects, baarch has a short monophthong, /barɣ/, which has the regular maximal word-final sequence of three positions.

Being adverbs, daalk, skielk, kwealk, and moolk cannot be pluralized, whereas the mass noun (material noun) môlk(e) cannot either. There would therefore be no problem in assuming these words to have underlying representations ending in /-lək/. In this connection, it should be noted that the adverbs are contracted and reduced variants of forms with the adjectivizing suffix -(e)lik ( /-(ə)lək/)(see -lik): daalk derives from /dadə+lək/, skielk from /skiəd+lək/, kwealk from /kwɪəd+lək/, and moolk from /mo:ɣ+lək/. By assuming these five words to end in /-lək/, a problematic word-final sequence would be argued away.

This, however, is only part of the story. Since the realization of these words without schwa is also possible, underlying representations with /-lək/ call for (optional) schwa deletion.

There are thus two options here: 1) assuming underlying representations ending in /-lək/ supplemented by optional schwa deletion, 2) assuming underlying representations ending in /-lk/ supplemented by optional schwa insertion. It is unclear on which grounds to choose one option over the other. Here as well, some dialects have dealt with the problematic four-positional word-final sequence in a different way, at least for the words skielk and môlke, in that they have acquired a short monophthong, due to which /skilk/ and /mɔlkə/ have got a regular word-final sequence of three positions.