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Title:The Phonological Unity of Intervocalic Stop Weakening in Romance (Italian, Spanish, Historical Linguistics)
Author(s):Cravens, Thomas D.
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:This dissertation is meant to offer a clearer understanding of the history of the intervocalic stops in Romance, specifically with reference to the differences between Eastern and Western Romance. In the West, original geminates have simplified, single surds have voiced, and voiced stops have been lost or have merged with the results of historical voicing. In the East, geminates remain, voiced stops are mostly maintained, but in Tuscan dialects, and in Tuscan-derived Standard Italian, the outcome of single surds is bifurcated (e.g. Lat. FOCU >/fwoko/ but LOCU >/lwogo/); this last has been a topic of comment for over a century. One major subtype in each group obtains: Rumanian (East) has no voicing of surds, but has undergone degemination; similarly, some dialects of the Pyrenees share degemination with Spanish, but have preserved voiceless stops. Also, many have felt that modern allophonic spirantization of /p t k/ in Tuscan is an odd development.
Analysis of substratum explanations offered to account for (a) Western Romance voicing (Celtic substratum), (b) lack of voicing in the Pyrenees (Basque substratum), and (c) Tuscan spirantization (Etruscan substratum) shows that none of these are satisfactory. It is also shown that the dual outcomes of original surds in Tuscan are coherently interpretable as native.
A closer look at the Central Italian dialects, including Sardinian and Corsican, reveals that the allophonic weakenings in the group (Tuscan spirantization, Umbria-Lazio "semi-voicing", Sardinian and Corsican full voicing) are phonetically differentiated realizations of the same phonological process.
After a critical review of internal accounts of Romance weakening, the rudiments of a phonetic-based hierarchical strength phonology are presented. This enables incorporation of the synchronic analysis of the Central Italian dialects in a panchronic comparison of East and West. The result is a principled demonstration that the modern Romance reflexes of Latin intervocalic stops are locally divergent phonetic outcomes of the application, at varying intensities and velocities through time, of two phonological weakening strategies. It is shown that the occurrence of phonemicized voicing, traditionally the prime criterion for differentiating East and West, is an incidental development, and that instead, the two great divisions are due to the effects of the West's loss of the power of gemination at the underlying level.
Issue Date:1984
Description:157 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8502117
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1984

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