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Vowel Elision in Florentine Italian

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Luigia Garrapa

This monograph investigates final vowel elision in spoken Italian. Specifically, the book sheds light on the functioning and the constraining factors of final vowel elision in sequences of vowel-final determiners followed by vowel-initial nouns and in sequences of vowel-final proclitics followed by vowel-initial lexical verbs. The analysis is based on «real» language, that is on corpus and elicited data as well as on their pooled results. The quantitative data are analyzed statistically in order to identify the factors which constrain final vowel elision (i.e. function word class, the morphological category of number realized by the final elidable vowel, and speech style). The representation of final vowel elision in determiners and proclitics proposed in this monograph relies on four theoretical constructs and on their interaction, i.e pre-compiled phrasal allomorphy, dominant allomorphs, lexically encoded selectional preferences among allomorphs, and prosodic rules.

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1 Preliminaries 29

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29 Chapter 1 Preliminaries 1.1 Introduction This chapter reviews the current theoretical understanding of final vowel elision in Florentine Italian and presents the methodology adopted in this study. Section 1.2 clarifies what is meant by ‘final vowel elision’ and Section 1.3 clarifies what is ment by ‘Standard Italian’ vs. ‘Florentine Italian’. Section 1.4 offers a descriptive overview of final vowel deletion phenomena appearing in Florentine Italian. Section 1.5 introduces the function words analyzed and their phonological status. Section 1.6 focuses on the phonology and morphology of final elidable vowels. Section 1.7 is a state-of-the-art report concerning elision in Contemporary Italian as presented in descriptive grammars and in previous studies, and it explains why a systematic analysis of Florentine Italian elision promises to be both interesting and challenging. Section 1.8 offers a note on the realization of vowel sequences between words in spoken Italian. Finally, Section 1.9 identifies the sources of the data as well as the method adopted and motivates the statistical analysis. 1.2 Definition of final vowel elision and aim of the study Final vowel elision (or simply ‘vowel elision’ or ‘elision’) refers to the obligatory or variable deletion of unstressed, word-final vowels before word-initial vowels. Elision results in the resolution of a sequence of two adjacent vowels across word boundaries. 30 Elision phenomena are not unique to Italian; in fact, they are widely found in Romance languages1, as well as in languages which do not belong to the Romance family.2 Although the final vowels of both function words...

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