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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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7. Understanding RS: preaspiration and the potential overlapbetween RS and the Gorgia Toscana 253


253 7. Understanding RS: preaspiration and the potential overlap between RS and the Gorgia Toscana 7.1. Introduction As already noted, the occurrence of preaspirated geminate stops suggests a potential link to GT-affected singletons, given their articulatory similarities (see below), and must be fully investigated. As such, this chapter examines post-vocalic singleton voiceless stops /p t k/ and compares their phonetic realisation in the spontaneous speech data with that of their geminate counterparts, including those in RS contexts. Independent of preaspiration, this will also help to understand the mechanisms of RS, and the degree to which RS-affected consonants may overlap with their counterparts in non-RS contexts. At present, no published phonetic study has examined the singleton- geminate contrast in a Tuscan variety of Italian such as Sienese, in which the Gorgia toscana (hereafter GT) is present. We saw in §2.8 that, put simply, GT is a lenition process affecting post-vocalic singleton /p t k/ in non-RS contexts, under which they are weakened to voiceless fricatives [ϕ θ x/h]. The process happens both within and across words e.g. /disko'teka/ > [disko'θε:ha] ‘disco’; /la tuni'sia/ > [la θuni'si:a] ‘Tunisia’. In terms of phonetic research, existing studies have addressed GT in isolation, examining only singleton /p t k/ and not their geminate counterparts in Tuscan varieties (e.g. Sorianello 2003 for Florentine; Marotta 2001, 2004 for Pisan). The contrast between singleton and gemi- nate consonants, on the other hand, has been examined using controlled speech data involving Standard Italian pronunciation (e.g. Payne 2000, 2005; Pickett et al....

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