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Status of Italian rising diphthongs

From:Mangiat <mangiat@...>
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 4
> > 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,
> 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 given
> > contexts characterized by a particular suprasegmental condition similar
> > the one we postulated for Italian, we'd obtain *an yard, which is > > ill-formed. > > ...unless we assert that English has different rules for determining
> 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 careful
> preserve the quality of the high vowels; whereas in "yard" the first
> *never* has full vocalic status. > > Anyway. :) In conclusion, I think your analysis (from the data you've
> 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? Luca