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Title:Syncope in Spanish and Portuguese: The Diachrony of Hispano-Romance Phonotactics
Authors:Eric Lief
Abstract:This dissertation examines syncope in the development of Latin to Hispano-Romance (Spanish and Portuguese). Syncope, the loss of certain unstressed word-medial vowels, had a profound effect on the phonotactics of Latin and Romance.

The first part of this dissertation examines the consonantal phonotactics of Latin, Spanish, and Portuguese. Since Latin is a very good reference point for many of the changes which occurred during the development of these two languages, a complete description of the sound pattern of this language is crucial before addressing the issue of syncope. In Chapter 1, a set of phonotactic generalizations are formulated for word-initial, word-final, and word-medial consonants and consonant sequences in Classical Latin. Chapters 2 and 3 investigate the consonantal phonotactics of Spanish and Portuguese, outlining the major structural similarities and differences in the development of these two languages. Word-final stop deletion and apocope (word-final vowel deletion) is also addressed here, and it is demonstrated how the restriction of only sonorants and /s/ to syllable codas (coda condition) constrained the application of apocope (though in different degrees) early on in Hispano-Romance.

Chapters 4-6 address syncope in Spanish and Portuguese from a diachronic perspective. Very painstaking effort has been made in collecting as much data as possible, from as wide a variety of phonological environments aspossible. Electronic corpora such as Patrologia Latina for Latin and Real Academia for Spanish have been invaluable sources, especially for frequency data. Close attention is paid to the interaction of syncope and obstruent voicing/voiced obstruent deletion as a means to chronologize the development of syncope in Spanish and Portuguese.

Chapter 6 examines the effects found to be significant in syncope. Such effects can be classified as either segmental, syllabic, or phonotactic (attestation). After discussion of these effects, the theoretical implications of this dissertation are examined. In light of the recent interest in Romance syncope within the framework of Optimality Theory (e.g. Hartkemeyer 2000), an OT formulation of some of the constraints found to be significant in Hispano-Romance is given, and two views of phonotactic change (the simultaneous versus stepwise accounts) are evaluated.
Area/Keywords:Historical Linguistics, Phonology
Article:Version 1