Search the lexicon


sonority hierarchy

PHONOLOGY: a hierarchy representing the sonority of classes of sounds. Cf. Katamba (1989) (refinements can be added):

least sonority                              greatest sonority

voiceless obstruents    voiced obstruents    nasals    glides    vowels
The sonority hierarchy can be used, to explain distributions of segments in syllables. The nucleus (i.e. vowel) of a syllable is the most sonorous element. The sonority of the surrounding consonants must decrease to the left and to the right starting from the vowel. Put differently: the more sonorous a segment, the closer to the nucleus of the syllable. EXAMPLE: in English the syllables matl, lkon are impossible since in matl the sonority in the sequence tl increases (must be: decreasing) and in lkon the sonority of the sequence lk decreases (must be increasing).
LIT. Katamba, F. (1989)
Selkirk, E.O. (1980)