James W. Harris

James W. Harris is Professor of Spanish and Linguistics at MIT.

  • Syllable Structure and Stress in Spanish

    A Nonlinear Analysis

    James W. Harris

    James Harris is widely recognized aspioneering investigator of both the Spanish language and the general principles that underlie the modern generative theories of linguistics. In this book, he outlines important new results that impose strong constraints on the theory of Spanish phonology, with consequences beyond Spanish and beyond the family of Romance languages.The first part of the book deals with problems of syllable structure, and the second part with stress (accentuation). In both, Harris presents evidence and arguments showing that previous analyses are descriptively and theoretically inadequate, and he proposes new interpretations. These include a proposition for analyzing syllable structure by combining a set of rules that apply to strings of phonemes and a set of filters that mark labeled constituents as deviant under specified conditions. Harris provides a systematic description of the stress contours of Spanish words that follows from morphological and markedness considerations.Markedness is in turn interpreted in terms of the universal theory of "extrametricality." The book formulates and illustrates the Peripherality Condition, a universal principle that strongly constrains the theory of extrametricality, with highly desirable consequences for the description of Spanish grammar.

    This is the eighth volume in the series Linguistic Inquiry Monographs.

    • Hardcover $32.50
    • Paperback $16.95
  • Spanish Phonology

    James W. Harris

    In this study, the phonological component of a transformation generative grammar of Spanish is studied in the framework of the phonological theory whose most recent and comprehensive formulation appears in The Sound Pattern of English by Chomsky and Halle.

    The purpose of the study is twofold: first, it strives for deeper insight into the widely studied facts of Spanish pronunciation by presenting a theory of these facts in the form of a generative grammar; second, this study of generative phonology with the results of an extensive and detailed investigation of the sound structure of Spanish. The book shows that the phonological theory proposed by Chomsky and Halle, in general, is strongly supported by the data of Spanish although serious inadequacies remain. Several controversial and up-to-not unresolved problems of Spanish phonology yield to insightful analysis in this theory. For example, the question of certain assimilatory phenomena before glides finds a natural and simple solution, and substantive clarification is achieved of the phonological and phonetic representations of the various r-type phones.

    In chapter 1 Professor Harris presents a general introduction to the investigation. He then provides a close examination of rules involving the phonetic features of nasals, glides, voiced obstruents, and liquids in Chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4 cover a wide range of phonological processes involved in the rich inflectional system of the verb. Consonantal alterations in derivational morphology are considered in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6 the author examines in depth certain phonological processes such as diphthongization, velar softening, and palatalization, and he concludes with an ordered list of all the rules discussed in the study. Chapter 7 is a historical excursus that studies the evolution of the medieval stridents in Castilian and Mexican Spanish vis-à-vis current phonological theory.

    At each point the data of Spanish being examined are presented in detail. Any reader familiar with the theory of generative phonology may follow the clear and thoughtful presentation.

    • Hardcover $32.50