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A Phonetic Investigation into «Raddoppiamento sintattico» in Sienese Italian


Mary Stevens

This book studies the linguistic phenomenon of «Raddoppiamento sintattico» (RS), the post-lexical lengthening in Italian of word-initial consonants following certain words, e.g. a [k:] asa ‘at home’. Linguists have long sought describe exactly where and why RS occurs. Based on naturally occurring speech recorded in Siena, Tuscany, this book provides detailed phonetic information on what happens when RS occurs as well as its interactions with other phenomena in natural speech such as lenition and pausing. This study relates this phonetic detail to existing phonological models of RS, vowel length and syllable structure in Italian. The most important subject of the book is the fine-grained description of stops in RS contexts, which are shown to be optionally preaspirated – a phenomenon typically associated with only a few languages outside of Scandinavia. The book considers in detail the potential role of preaspiration in signaling consonant length in this variety of Italian and in doing so serves as a useful model for other laboratory phonology investigations into connected speech processes.


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6. The phonetic realisation of RS and WM geminates in SieneseItalian: the impact of preaspiration 203


203 6. The phonetic realisation of RS and WM geminates in Sienese Italian: the impact of preaspiration 6.1. Introduction: the discovery of preaspiration in Sienese Italian A crucial aspect of any phonetic investigation into RS is of course the distinction between long consonants, i.e. +RS, and short consonants, i.e. –RS, and how this distinction is signalled in both acoustic and perceptual terms. Specific to voiceless stops, the focus of the present acoustic investigation, a review of the relevant experimental literature on (Standard) Italian (e.g. Carminati 1984; Esposito & Di Benedetto 1999; Campos-Astorkiza 2004; Payne 2000, 2005) would suggest the application of RS always involves a straightforward increase in the duration of the supralaryngeal closure portion. However, the mismatch between the auditory perception of RS and the acoustic duration values seen in the preceding two chapters, suggests that manner of articulation, not yet addressed, may also play a role. Manner of articulation of geminate /p: t: k:/ in Tuscan varieties has never been the focus of attention in an acoustic phonetic study. Only the manner of articulation of singleton /p t k/ is assumed to vary, due to GT, and has thus attracted some detailed acoustic analysis (e.g. Marotta 2004; Sorianello 2003; Dalcher 2008). However, as already noted, geminate voiceless stops are frequently preaspirated in the present corpus of spontaneous speech i.e. /p: t: k:/ > [hp ht hk]. In addition, a handful of geminate /p: t: k:/ tokens are realised as fricatives and incomplete stops, that is, without any...

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