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PaPI 2005 Barcelona. On the origin and evolution of the contrast between tautosyllabic and heterosyllabic sequences of vocoids in Romance. Ioana Chitoran José Ignacio Hualde Dartmouth College University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign USA.

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PaPI 2005 Barcelona

On the origin and evolution of the contrast between tautosyllabic and heterosyllabic sequences of vocoids in Romance

Ioana Chitoran José Ignacio Hualde

Dartmouth College University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Cross romance typology of glide vowel variability
Cross-Romance typology of glide-vowel variability


  • Understanding the presence or absence of variability in the production of vocalic sequences (iV, jV)in Romance languages.

  • The comparative study of variability provides an insight into the historical evolution of a phonological system.


    Variability is related to:

  • The presence of the glide [j] from other historical sources

  • The effects of prosodic structure on the realization of linguistic units

Latin iV sequences

Catalan, Portuguese

French Spanish Romanian


[mjp][miope] [miopu]‘short-sighted’

[bjl] [bjela][biela] ‘rod’

[medjan] ‘median’[italjana][italjana]‘Italian’f.

diphthong sequence


Historical diphthongs

Latin /’ptra/

French Spanish Romanian Portuguese

p[j]rrep[je]dra p[ja]tr«p[]dra

  • Standard French: iV sequences contract to jV, merging with historical diphthongs

    Exceptions: after complex onsets (l[j]er vs. pl[i].er); across a morpheme boundary (tr[wa] ‘three’ vs. tr[u.a] ‘he dug’)

  • Castilian Spanish: iV sequences contract to jV, merging with diphthongs

    Exceptions:across a morpheme boundary (boqu[i-a]ncho)(Navarro Tomás 1977;Hualde 1997); paradigmatic effects (l[i.á]mos ‘we tie’ cf. l[í.a]s ‘you tie’; sometimes in word-initial position;Aguilar 1999; Colina 1999; Hualde & Prieto 2002; Chitoran & Hualde 2002)

  • Romanian: iV maintained, contrast with historical diphthongs jV (Chitoran 2001; Chitoran & Hualde 2002)

  • Portuguese:

    - no historical diphthongs

    - iV maintained, jV possible in casual/fast speech(Mateus & d’Andrade 2000; Mateus et al.2003)

    Same scenario for Catalan (Cabré & Prieto 2004)

Differences in historical details
Differences in historical details


Diphthongs in limited context, after labials:

PETRA > pjatr«‘stone’

Palatalization of coronals and velars, glide absorbtion:

TERRA > tsar«‘land’

SEPTEM > Sapte‘seven’

DECEM > zetSe‘ten’

Other sources of glides
Other sources of glides

Romanian and Italian

Stop-liquid clusters:

PLENA > It. pjena ‘full’ f.

CLAMARE > It. kjamare ‘to call’

Rom. kjema

Iv sequences
iV sequences

Diphthong production (jV) vs. hiatus sequence production (iV)

  • Native speaker syllabification judgments:

    • tautosyllabic (jV) vs. heterosyllabic (i.V)

  • Acoustic duration:

    • shorter vs. longer duration

      (Hualde & Prieto 1999, Chitoran & Hualde 2002)

Effects of prosodic structure
Effects of prosodic structure

  • Lengthening at prosodic boundaries (in a syllable onset at word and phrase boundary)

    • e.g., Fougeron & Keating 1997, Turk & Shattuck-Hufnagel 2000, Fougeron 2001, Cho & Keating 2001

  • Relative timing of gestures is affected by the

  • proximity of prosodic boundaries

    • Byrd 2000

Romance vocalic sequences two types of prosodic effects
Romance vocalic sequencesTwo types of prosodic effects

  • Position in the word

    • Sequences tend to be longer word-initially than word-internally

  • Position with respect to stress

    • Sequences tend to be longer the closer they are to the main stress syllable, preceding it

Word position effect romanian
Word position effect – Romanian

- 4 speakers, 7 repetitions, total 560 words

  • Control for stress, no of syllables, segmental context

  • Measured: acoustic duration of iV sequence (Praat)

    Carrier phrase: Spúne __ de trei órj‘say __ three times’

    Examples: word-initial word-internal

    (orthography) ca-n pión campión

    ce piós copiós

    ce viábil serviábil

    din Diána mediána

    vezj tiáre vestiáre

    si ca liána italiána

Results romanian
Results – Romanian

iV sequences longer word-initially than medially (p<.0001)

Word position and stress castilian spanish
Word position and stressCastilian Spanish

  • 4 speakers, 4 repetitions, total 528 words

    Carrier phrase: Dígo __ porque sí ‘I say __ just so’

    Initial-stressedfiórdo ‘fiord’

    diéta ‘diet’

    diána ‘Diana’

    Medial-stressed cordiál ‘cordial’

    italiána ‘Italian’ f.

    Initial-unstressed piolét ‘axe’

    diagonál ‘diagonal’

Results spanish initial stressed medial stressed initial unstressed p 001
Results – Spanish initial-stressed > medial-stressed > initial-unstressed(p<.001)

Word position effect french
Word position effect – French

5 speakers, 7 repetitions, total 630 words

Carrier phrase: Dis-nous __ de nouveau ‘tell us __ again’

Examples: word-initial word-internal

(orthography) une pionne championne

la viole raviole

le diol s’étiole

ta nielle Danielle

mes Dianes médiane

tes lierres bélière

ta liasse alias

Results french
Results – French

iV sequences longer word-initially than medially (p<.05)

Portuguese no word position effect
Portuguese – No word position effect

European Portuguese (EP) Brazilian Portuguese (BP)

  • 4 speakers, 7 repetitions - 5 speakers, 3 repetitions

  • total 502 words - total 269 words

    Carrier phrase: Digo ___ porque sim‘I say __ just so’

    Examples:word-initial word-internal

    (orthography)a liana aliada

    que viavel enviavel

    da Diana mediana

    a miada amealha

    No word position effect (p > .05)

Cross romance patterns
Cross-Romance patterns

Different patterns with respect to “degree of contrast” between glides and vowels

glide / vowel contrast



Frenchno - all glides

Portugueseno- all vowels


  • The presence of glides (diphthongs) from other historical sources

  • Prosodic effects on the duration of vocalic sequences

Presence of diphthongs Contrast Position effect

(initial / internal)

French yesno(p < .05)

Spanish yespartial(p < .001)

Romanian yes, but inyes(p < .0001)limited context

Portuguese nonono position effect

Proximity to stress effects
Proximity to stress effects

  • Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese

    Immediately pretonic syllables tend to have greater duration than other unstressed syllables further to the left(Hualde & Chitoran 2003)

    stressed # V*  #

    pretonic # V*  #

    pre-pretonic # V * # * indicates stress

Proximity to stress effects in iv sequences
Proximity to stress effects in iV sequences

  • Same speakers (3 Spanish, 4 Romanian, 4 EP, 5 BP)

  • Same carrier phrase, randomized list

  • Measured duration of word-initial iV sequence

    stressed pretonic pre-pretonic

    Spanish/ diáspora diamánte diapasón

    Portuguese diácono diabétes diagonál

    diatríba diametrál

    Romanian diáspora diamántu diapazón

    diáconu diabéturj diagonál

    diatríba diametrál


stressed > pretonic > pre-pretonic 2 Sp, 2 R, 1 EP

stressed > pretonic, pre-pretonic 1 Sp, 1 R, 3 EP

stressed, pretonic > pre-pretonic 1 R

(p < .05)

European Portuguese

stressed > pretonic > pre-pretonic p < .05

BP word-internal: stressed > pretonic > pre-pretonic

word-initial: stressed > pretonic, pre-pretonic p < .0001

Proximity to stress effects in vowels
Proximity to stress effects in vowels

  • Same speakers

  • Test words: 5 triplets (Sp), 6/7 (Rom), 7 pairs (EP), contrasting in location of stress

  • Measure duration of vowel in word-initial syllable

    stressed pretonic pre-pretonic

    Spanish célebre celébre celebré

    lámina lamína laminá

    Romanian pátima patína patiná

    répede repéde repetá

    EPortuguesehabíto habitóu

    debíto debitóu

Results spanish
Results – Spanish

stressed > pretonic > pre-pretonic 3 speakers (p < .05)

Results romanian1
Results – Romanian

stressed > pretonic > pre-pretonic 3 speakers

stressed > pretonic, pre-pretonic 1 speaker

(p < .05)

Results european portuguese
Results – European Portuguese

pretonic > pre-pretonic 3 speakers (p <. 05)


  • Vowels in immediately pretonic syllables tend to be longer than other earlier vowels

    (at least in words bearing pitch accent)

  • The duration differences correlate with the distribution of heterosyllabic vowel sequences (exceptions) in Spanish. These exceptions are reported for the most part in stressed and pretonic syllables.

Conclusions duration of iV sequences

  • We established the presence of variability in the degree of contrast between glides and vowels in several Romance languages.

  • The variability can be explained by the interaction of two factors:

    - The presence of glides/diphthongs in the lexicon from other historical sources, acting as “lexical attractors” for the reduction of sequences (in agreement with Cabré & Prieto – to appear)

    - Independent prosodic effects – which can slow down the merging tendency between iV sequences and diphthongs in certain positions (word-initially, in a stressed syllable, and closer to main stress).

  • The comparative study of variability in the glide/vowel production reveals information about the way in which different systems have evolved with respect to the glide-vowel contrast.

References duration of iV sequences

Aguilar, L. (1999) Hiatus and diphthong: Acoustic cues and speech situation differences. Speech Communication 28, 57-74

Cabré, T. & P. Prieto (2004) Prosodic and analogical effects in lexical glide formation in Catalan. Probus 16:2, 113-150.

Cabré, T. & P. Prieto (to appear) Exceptional hiatuses in Spanish

Chitoran, I. (2001) The phonology of Romanian: A constraint-based approach. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter

Chitoran, I. & J.I. Hualde (2002) Variability in hiatus resolution: a phonetic study of [CiV] sequences in two Romance languages. LabPhon 8 poster, Yale University and Haskins, 2002.

Cho, T. & P.A. Keating (2001) Articulatory and acoustic studies on domain-initial strengthening in Korean. Journal of Phonetics 29, 155-190

Fougeron, C. & P.A. Keating (1997) Articulatory strengthening at edges of prosodic domains. JASA 101, 3728-3740

Fougeron, C. (2001) Articulatory properties of initial segments in several prosodic constituents in French. Journal of Phonetics 29, 109-136

Frota, S. & M. Vigario (2001) On the correlates of rhythmic distinctions: The European/Brazilian Portuguese case. Probus 13:2, 247-275

Hualde, J.I. (1997) Spanish /i/ and related sounds: An exercise in phonetic analysis. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 27: 61-79

Hualde, J.I. (1999) Patterns in the lexicon: Hiatus with unstressed high vowels in Spanish. In J. Gutierrez-Rexach and F. Martinez-Gil (eds.) Advances in Hispanic Linguistics, 182-197.

Hualde, J.I. & M. Prieto (2002) On the diphthong/hiatus contrast in Spanish: some experimental results. Linguistics 40(2), 217-234

Hualde, J.I. & I. Chitoran (2003) Explaining the distribution of hiatus in Spanish and Romanian. Proceedings of ICPhS 15.

Mateus, M.H. & E. d’Andrade (2000) The Phonology of Portuguese. Oxford University Press

Mateus, M.H. et al. (2003) Gramática da Língua Portuguesa. 5th edition, Caminho: Lisbon

Navarro Tomás, T. (1948) Manual de pronunciación espanola, 19th edition, Madrid: CSIC

Recasens, D. (1991) Timing in Catalan. ICPhS XII, Aix-en-Provence, 230-233

Turk, A.E. & S. Shattuck-Hufnagel (2000) Word-boundary-related duration patterns in English. Journal of Phonetics 28, 397-440

Authors’ contact: [email protected]

[email protected]