Norwegian Retroflexion − Licensing by Cue or Prosody?


  • Silke Hamann Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und Universalienforschung (



Phonology, Retroflex, Licensing by Cue, Licensing by Prosody, Phonetics, Norwegian Language


This article deals with the class of retroflex segments in Norwegian. The question is handled whether the phonotactic restrictions on retroflexes to occur mainly only in coda position cannot be better described in terms of the availability of the retroflex cues in post-vocalic position instead of refering to their syllable-position. The latter approach, the so-called prosodic licensing (Lombardi 1995), is shown to be insufficient in cases of retroflexion across word-boundaries, where retroflexes appear in onset-position. The so-called lincensing by cue-approach (Steriade 1995), on the other hand, is shown to be able to cover all the instances of retroflex occurrences: retroflexes in Norwegian occur only when a vowel precedes, which enhances their strong transitional cues from vowel to retroflex. In addition to this, licensing by cue can account for the progressive assimilation of retroflexion also found in Norwegian.