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INFOLING  May 1998

INFOLING May 1998

Subject:

Tesis doctoral: Eric Holt.1997. The Role of the Listener in the Historical Phonology of Spanish and Portuguese

From:

Carlos Subirats Rüggeberg <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Distribución de información sobre lingüística española <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 20 May 1998 17:12:19 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (190 lines)

INFOLING Lista moderada de lingüística española
http://listserv.rediris.es/archives/infoling.html
Envío de información: [log in to unmask]
Editor: Carlos Subirats Rüggeberg <[log in to unmask]>
Colaboradoras:
Paola Bentivoglio <[log in to unmask]>, UCV
Eulalia de Bobes <[log in to unmask]>, UAB
Mar Cruz <[log in to unmask]>, UB
Emma Martinell <[log in to unmask]>, UB
_____________________________________________________

                   Tesis doctoral
The Role of the Listener in the Historical Phonology of Spanish
and Portuguese: An Optimality-Theoretic Account
            Información proporcionada por:
        Eric Holt <[log in to unmask]>
_____________________________________________________

1. Autor:
   David Eric Holt
   Georgetown University

2. Título:
   The Role of the Listener in the Historical Phonology of
   Spanish and Portuguese: An Optimality-Theoretic Account

3. Fecha de lectura:
   July 10, 1997

4. Centro:
   Georgetown University
   Department of Spanish and Portuguese

5. Director:
   Dr. Alfonso Morales Front

6. Proyecto o línea de investigación en la que se incluye:


7. Resumen:

    This dissertation studies the application to historical sound
change of a constraint-based approach to phonology. Optimality
Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993, McCarthy and Prince 1993a,b)
is the framework employed in the analysis of the principal
changes in syllable structure that developed from Latin to
Spanish and Portuguese. Historical sound change is argued to
be driven by the incorporation of phonetic factors into phonology
for reasons of lexicon and grammar optimization. It is shown that
the role of perception and reinterpretation by the listener is
crucial in historical change as a means to achieve this
optimization. We will see that reanalysis of underlying forms may
have profound effects on the organization of the constraint
hierarchy of the grammar, leading to the step-wise rise of
markedness constraints versus faithfulness constraints.

    To date there has been little research into historical
Hispano-Romance phonology using this model, and this dissertation
aims to help fill that gap. While offering an analysis of several
classic historical phenomena, it also makes a contribution to the
development of phonological theory and the emerging Optimality
Theory (OT), while advancing a novel model of language change.

    Within a constraint-based approach, and one that intends to
be universal, how is language change to be characterized? This is
new ground, and only recently have researchers begun to apply OT
to sound change (Jacobs 1994, 1995; Hutton 1996; Gess 1996; Green
1997--these are reviewed in Chapter 1). Jacobs and Gess
investigate Old French, but lacking still at this point are
in-depth treatments of the phonological history of both Spanish
and Portuguese. Because this would in fact constitute an entire
research program, this dissertation is limited to an exploration
of the role of lexicon optimization in sound change and its
effects on syllable structure.

    Several characteristics that distinguish Spanish from
Portuguese are shown to be attributed to the divergent ranking of
a limited number of constraints. We will see that the history of
these languages is composed of a series of stages, each of which
exhibits a specific constraint hierarchy. This must be understood
in diachronic terms, not in serially derivational ones, which
would be antithetical to the tenets of OT, which in its strongest
form allows for only a single step from base to surface. That is,
the dissertation proposes a series of stages in the OT grammar,
but these are to be understood as historical stages, not
intermediate stages of a single synchronic grammar.

    To support these assertions, a series of phonological
structure conditions (constraints) are presented and motivated
whose interaction and relative importance account for the
historical changes addressed here. Slight reranking of these
constraints, that is, variation in the relative importance of the
constraints from one language to another and from one time period
to another, elegantly and simply captures cross-linguistic
variation in the syllable structure and phonological/phonetic
forms of these languages.

    Likewise, several steps in the historical development of
certain phenomena are best understood as resulting from effects
of perception and (re-)interpretation by the hearer. Furthermore,
several phonological processes and historical changes can be seen
here as interrelated for the first time, a result of assuming the
constraint-based approach employed in this dissertation.

    Chapter 1 presents a discussion of the need for theoretical
approaches to historical change in addition to traditional ones.
Once the theoretical assumptions adopted here are introduced
(Optimality Theory, lexicalization and lexicon optimization, and
moraic theory and its relation to sonority), there is a
discussion of previous OT approaches to variation and change
and their relevance to the present study. Chapter 1 concludes
with a brief discussion of the direction the present work takes.

    Chapter 2 begins the analysis of the Hispano-Romance data. It
is argued that reanalysis by the listener of previously phonetic
differences leads to loss of vowel length distinctions in Late
Latin. This is argued to initiate far reaching changes that lead
to the eventual recovery of systemic balance in the distribution
of long segments. The step-wise climb of a constraint *C-m (no
moraic consonants) leads to the reduction of geminate voiceless
obstruents and the vocalization of the first segment in the
clusters /kt, ks, lt, gn/. Also crucial here is the reanalysis of
the Latin Stress Rule.

    Chapter 3 continues to treat the effects of reanalysis by the
listener of loss of distinctive vowel length. One major result is
that the Latin Stress Rule is reanalyzed as a constraint
requiring that stressed syllables be bimoraic; subsequent
developments in pre-Old Spanish led to diphthongization of open
mid vowels /E, O/. The other principal effect of loss of Latin
vowel length is the step-wise rise of *C-m, as seen in Chapter 2;
here it continues to rise, resulting in simplification of the
next-most sonorous elements, the geminate sonorants /nn, ll/.
Previous loss of /-n-, -l-/ in Galician/Portuguese allowed for
simplification of /nn, ll/ to /n, l/; in Old Spanish, however,
the retention of Latin /-n-, -l-/ led to
simplification-cum-palatalization, yielding /N, L/ [palatal
-n- and -l-]. An appendix to this chapter explores coarticulation
of nasal and lateral codas in Andalusian and Caribbean Spanish.

    Chapter 4 gives additional support for the proposition that
the listener is key in effecting sound change. In this chapter,
an innovative account is presented of another characteristic that
sharply differentiates Spanish from Galician/ Portuguese, the
development of clusters of voiceless consonant plus /l/. In
addition to further cases of the lexicon optimization of added
features to avoid violations of DEP, we will see that the
listener may play another role as well. Here it is the acoustic
similarity of marked [cL.] [that is, voiceless palatal L] that
leads to reinterpretation by the listener as [tS]. I offer an OT
reconsideration of the Uniformity Condition and suggest that it
is important in leading to the reanalysis of certain Cl clusters
as /tS/. Two appendices to Chapter 4 treat further several
theoretical issues raised in the course of this dissertation: the
first discusses the phonetic plausibility of the change [Cl] >
[tS]. The second adduces additional phenomena in Hispano-Romance
that may be best accounted for by appealing to constraint
conjunction as an alternative to the Uniformity Condition.

    Chapter 5 briefly summarizes the principal results of this
study that show that the role of the listener is crucial in
effecting sound change. This chapter also gives several
conclusions regarding historical sound change in Optimality
Theory, including that consideration of phonetic factors and
lexicon and grammar optimization are important in understanding
historical change.

8. Direccion postal del autor (a partir de agosto del 1998):
D. Eric Holt
Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
Estados Unidos
Tel: (803) 777-4884
Fax: (803) 777-7828
Co-e actual: [log in to unmask]

9. Posibilidad de obtener un ejemplar de la tesis:
    Próximamente estara disponible en el Rutgers Optimality
Archive (ROA):

    http://ruccs.rutgers.edu/roa

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