Minimal word constraint

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The minimal word constraint sets a minimum for the size of lexical words. In English, for example, a lexical word cannot be shorter than two moras: either a heavy syllable, that is, either a syllable with a long vowel (like eye [aɪ], go [goʊ], far [fɑː]), or a closed syllable (like cat [kat], ate [ɛt], met [mɛt]); or two light syllables (like letter [lɛtə], city [sɪti]). (Function words may be shorter than two moras, though in English this only occurs with their reduced forms: for [fɔː]/[fə], she [ʃiː]/[ʃi], etc.).

French, unlike English, does not possess a minimal word constraint: accordingly French lexical words may consist of a single light syllable: eau [o] `water', feu [fø] `fire', etc.

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