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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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8. Implications and conclusions 287


287 8. Implications and conclusions 8.1. Introduction This investigation presented the results of an auditory and acoustic phonetic investigation into RS in spontaneous, naturally occurring speech. The investigation also looked in detail at preaspiration and GT, two phenomena that were found to play a crucial role in understanding what happens when RS does, and does not occur, in our corpus of Sienese Italian. This chapter first summarizes the findings of the preceding seven chapters and then addresses, in §8.3, the implications of the results for phonological descriptions of RS and for some interrelated issues. Given the complexity of the phonetic facts themselves, the discussion in §8.3 is only preliminary, and it is hoped that the data contained here will stimulate more detailed phonological analysis in the future. With this in mind, §8.4 outlines some suggested directions for future research on RS and on Italian. 8.2. Summary of findings Following Chapter 1, the introduction, Chapter 2 provided the necessary background information for a phonetic investigation into RS in natural speech. While RS is a much-discussed phenomenon, it is not always well understood or well described in the literature. It was shown that there is a mismatch between the assumptions contained in phonological models of RS, particularly regarding the duration of word-final stressed vowels, and the available phonetic evidence. In terms of background information, the phonetic cues to the contrast between singleton and geminate consonants in Standard Italian were established (C duration, preceding V duration, and C/V ratio), and it was shown...

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