Primarily in Austroasiatic languages (also known as Mon-Khmer), in a typical word a minor syllable is a reduced (minor) syllable followed by a full tonic or stressed syllable. The minor syllable may be of the form /C?/ or /C?N/, with a reduced vowel, as in colloquial Khmer, or of the form /CC/ with no vowel at all, as in Mlabri /kn?di:?/ "navel" (minor syllable /kn?/) and /br?po:?/ "underneath" (minor syllable /br?/), and Khasi kyndon /kn?d?:n/ "rule" (minor syllable /kn?/), syrwet /sr?w?t?/ "sign" (minor syllable /sr?/), kylla /kl?la/ "transform" (minor syllable /kl?/), symboh /sm?b?:?/ "seed" (minor syllable /sm?/) and tyngkai /tka:?/ "conserve" (minor syllable /t/). This iambic pattern is sometimes called sesquisyllabic (lit. 'one and a half syllables'), a term coined by the American linguist James Matisoff in 1973 (Matisoff 1973:86).
Sometimes minor syllables are introduced by language contact. Many Chamic languages as well as Burmese have developed minor syllables from contact with Mon-Khmer family. In Burmese, minor syllables have the form /C?/, with no consonant clusters allowed in the syllable onset, no syllable coda, and no tone.
Recent reconstructions of Proto-Tai and Old Chinese also include sesquisyllabic roots with minor syllables, as transitional forms between fully disyllabic words and the monosyllabic words found in modern Tai languages and modern Chinese.
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