Why Italian dialects with vowel reduction are incompatible with stress-induced RF

Jonathan Bucci 1
1 BCL, équipe Dialectologie et Linguistique formelle
BCL - Bases, Corpus, Langage (UMR 7320 - UNS / CNRS)
Abstract : Raddoppiamento Fonosintattico (RF) triggers from oxytones. It is an external sandhi process that reduplicates the initial consonant of the second word in a sequence of two words when the final vowel of the first word is stressed (e.g. città ppulita "clean city" vs. casa pulita "clean house" cf. Loporcaro (1997a)). This process is especially well-known in Tuscany cf. Chierchia (1986). This article correlates RF resulting from stress with another phenomenon: reduction of unstressed vowels to schwa in certain Italian dialects, that at first appears to have no relationship with it. Drawing on diatopy, the goal is to show that these two phenomena are incompatible, i.e. that no system can combine both of them. We will show that, in accordance with the prediction made above, there is a tendency for the two processes to be in complementary distribution. This article proposes a study of two distinct phonological processes, the reduction of unstressed vowels to schwa that occurs in a number of Southern Italian dialects (Corato, Teramo, Bari, etc.), and phonotactic doubling induced by stress ('Raddoppiamento Fonosintattico', or RF, e.g. Firenze, Pisa, Siena, etc.). An analysis of vowel reduction in the dialect of Corato (Apulia area) predicts that the distribution of these two phenomena is complementary: they cannot co-occur in any system because the last (tonic) vowel of word 1 and the gemination of the first consonant of word 2 compete for the same syllabic space (x-slot) provided by stress. This is because, as is shown, unreduced vowels in vowel-reducing dialects are in fact long (while reduced vowels are short). Since tonic vowels are unreduced, the syllabic space provided by stress is used in order for the vowel to be long. Therefore it cannot be used simultaneously by the following word-initial consonant. The ensuing prediction that no system can host both reduction and stress-induced RF concerns all Italo-romance dialects. It relates two phenomena that a priori do not share anything and should be able to occur independently of one another. Therefore, if the diatopic prediction turns out to be correct, the analysis that is at its origin (unreduced vowels are long in vowel reduction dialects) receives strong support. In order to test the diatopic prediction, two maps need to be superposed: the one that identifies vowel-reduction dialects (as opposed to dialects where non-tonic vowels remain unreduced) and the one that locates systems with stress-induced RF. Bucci (2013) drew a map identifying vowel reduction dialects on the basis of the 'Atlante Linguistico Italiano' (Bartoli et al. 1995): the resulting map is shown in section 6.1. No such map could be established with stress-induced RF since relevant atlasses do not record external sandhi phenomena. Data in this area were thus collected from monographs and descriptions that are available in the dialectological literature. It is shown below that the two diatopic data sets confirm the prediction: there is no system on record where both vowel reduction and stress-induced RF co-occur. As far as phonological theory is concerned, the analysis, which relies on the idea that phonological length may be expressed by other means than phonetic length, lends support to the claim that stress materializes as syllabic space. That is, what appears as a difference between full vowels and schwa on the surface may in fact be one of length: the former are long, the latter short vowels. 2 Segmental inventory of Coratino and suffixation
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Jonathan Bucci. Why Italian dialects with vowel reduction are incompatible with stress-induced RF. 2016. ⟨hal-01280794⟩

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