Status of Italian rising diphthongs
|Date:||Monday, December 9, 2002, 8:08|
> Incidentally, your subject looks like a headline from a newspaper: "Status
> of [the] Italian [language is] rising [in popularity]!" :)
Gosh! That was meant to be "Status of Italian rising diphthongs"! I left out
the core word...
> > When /u/ is a syllabic nucleus [u] appears; otherwise we get [w].
> > ...
> > This description would also introduce the distinction between 4different
> > phonemes, /i/, /j/, /u/ and /w/, where 2 (/i/ and /w/) would work.
> Looks good to me--I don't have much of a knowledge of Italian phonetics,but
> from your examples there certainly don't seem to be four phonemes.
Ok - I feel a bit reassured;-)
> > If we considered [j] an allophone of /i/ appearing in some givensyntagmatic
> > contexts characterized by a particular suprasegmental condition similarto
> > the one we postulated for Italian, we'd obtain *an yard, which is
> > ill-formed.
> ...unless we assert that English has different rules for determiningarticle
> form than Italian:
Yup. I tried to apply the Italian general rule to English just to show that
the underlying system is different, and this would generate ungrammatical
forms. Moreover, as you say, there would be a lot of arbitrary choice in
selecting the underlying vowels.
> you could say that the indefinite article appears in the
> form [@n] *only* before vowels, and as [@] in every other case, including
> semivowels. With English, though, I'm not sure whether describing the
> phonology this way would necessarily be helpful or useful--if, indeed, [j]
> and [w] are allophones of vowels in certain circumstances, which vowels
> would we select? It would be a bit of an arbitrary choice, since /VVV/
> sequences don't really exist in English (would "Maya," as in the
> Mesoamerican civilization, be /maja/ or /maia/? It seems to me that, once
> again, the choice would have to be fairly random). And then, of course,
> there are words like "Iliad" and "Joshua" which, at least in carefulspeech,
> preserve the quality of the high vowels; whereas in "yard" the firstsegment
> *never* has full vocalic status.
> Anyway. :) In conclusion, I think your analysis (from the data you'veshown)
> sounds right-on, and I look forward to reading the next edition on German.
That's essentialy based on the phonemic nature of both German and English
diphthongs, but since I was not sure about the phonemic status of English
diphthongs, I preferred tarrying a bit (thank you, Nik!);-) BTW, if any of
you is so kind as to explain me why they should be considered phonemes I'd
be very grateful to him/her. Briefly: English and German allow no instancies
of two homosyllabic vowels besides a small set of falling diphthongs (3 in
German, 8 in English) which are considered, I'm told, phonemic. [j] and [w]
(the latter is not present in German, though), OTOH, can appear before
(almost) all of the vowel phonemes- they behave as consonants (which can
indeed appear before all of the vowel phonemes). So this is the general
situation: there can be only one vocalic phoneme per syllable (/aI/ etc. are
single phonemes)- if we consider [j] and [w] independent consonant phonemes
(/j/ and /w/) we do not violate the general rule, if we don't we violate it.
In Italian [j] and [w] can appear both before and after vowels, with no
special restrictions: there's not a closed set of diphthongs, [j] and [w]
can appear before or after each and every vowel. There's no reason to
consider our diphthongs phonemic (the [E] sound in the diphthong [jE], for
instance, behaves just each and every /E/, i.e. it gets reduced to [e] in
unstressed position: _pieno_ ['pjEno], but _pienezza_ [pje'nettsa]) This
fact could be justified by two different explanations:
1. [j] and [w] are always two consonants;
2. [j] and [w] are always two vowels.
(And see above why we should consider them vowels)
Also: *[ij], *[ji], *[wu] and *[uw] are not allowed: this could be simply
explained stating that Italian disallows instancies of reduplicate
homosyllabic vowels (or geminate vowels, if you prefer)- the underlying
structure would be */.'ii./, */.i'i./, */.'uu./ or */.u'u./, which are not
allowed in the same syllable. Otherwise we'd get no explanation. There are
also some instancies which are never realized: [ow] never appears in the
core vocabulary, but that doesn't sound ill-formed to me. And I'm not
cheating (at least not consciously) to fit my explanation;-)
What ya think?