Syllable Structure in Central Kurdish Language Revisited

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D Candidate of Linguistics, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

2 Professor of Linguistics, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


In this study, the syllable structure in Central Kurdish (Sorani) language has been phonologically investigated. In this investigation, the syllable structure has been compared with the views which are based on orthography believe in CGVCC, CCVC and CCVCCC syllable structures (based on the frequency of occurrence in previous studies). This study examines the presence of a high front lax vowel /I/ in underlying representation or its epenthesis in surface representation during derivational stages. For this purpose, both internal and external linguistic evidences are employed. An audio corpus of the speakers of Mariwan and Sulaimani, along with a questionnaire for determining the native speakers’ intuition in counting the word syllables have been employed as the research data. Evidences from vowel changes in cognate and borrowed words, diachronic data, the application of phonological rules in the syllable domain, sonority sequencing principle and selection of the most sonorous element as syllable nucleus and consonants as onset and coda, along with acoustic cues for the presence of this vowel in phonetic representation explain the phonological syllable structure in Central Kurdish. Basic tenets of generative phonology like referring to two levels of representation, and the phonotactic rules on the distribution of building blocks of syllable form the theoretical framework of this study. The results show that from two opponent hypotheses regarding vowel /I/ existence in phonetic form: 1) existence in UR and faithfulness mapping to SR; 2) lacking in UR and emergence in SR as result of vowel epenthesis rule, regarding above-mentioned phonological arguments, the former is confirmed. By accepting the presence of vowel /I/ in underlying representation and the similarities between glides and other consonants as the second member of the onset, the syllable structure in Central Kurdish, like standard Persian, is CV(C)(C). In phonetic representation onset clusters of consonant-glide is the result of vowel deletion due to the shared place of articulation with the following glide.


Main Subjects

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Volume 11, Issue 2
February 2021
Pages 173-198
  • Receive Date: 27 May 2020
  • Revise Date: 08 July 2020
  • Accept Date: 19 November 2020
  • First Publish Date: 20 January 2021