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A Phonology of Italian in a Generative Grammar by Mario Saltarelli

By Mario Saltarelli

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There is no implication of difficulty for the language user. These rules and their ordering are part of an abstract model attempting to capture a formalization not of the language user himself but rather of the competence he exhibits in language behavior. We first consider consonants ([—voc] segments). The following list (5): strada scrigno sdraia spronare Strega stretto, etc. shows three-term consonantal clusters, the initial element of which is /s/, a noninterrupted segment. At first glance this seems to be a generality about three-term initial consonantal clusters.

Rule (B): Assign PS to antepenultimate if penultimate is short. Rule (C): Assign PS to penultimate of remaining words. Type I words are seriously problematic. Type I, D are borrowings and all end either in an open midvowel or in /u/. In my vocabulary every word ending in /ε/ or /a/ or /u/ is type I. Rule (D) assigns primary stress to type I, B, C and D in environment (a) and (b). PROBLEMS IN ITALIAN PHONOLOGY 35 Rule (D): Assign PS to the ultimate vowel if the word (a) ends in /ε/, /ο/, /u/, (b) is 3rd person singular Preterit, (c) belongs to the class of exceptions N z : astracan,..

Accordingly casa 'house' would be derived as follows: /käs+a/ (Β)' and cassa 'box': /kas+a/ (B)' [käs+a] käs+a (C) -* [käs+a] A simple reordering in the features of stress and length permits us to capture an important regularity in the language without adding any rules, but merely recognizing the more general importance of a phonetic phenomenon which is a physical and, according to Porena (1908, 1942), a perceptual reality in Italian. The phonemic system formulated on this basis would consist of 14 instead of 12 vowels: (8) e e i i o ö u ü e e o ö a ä but the advantages are far greater if we consider that the number of consonantal segment types is now reduced by 14: (9) t p k d b n m s f v C l r g n ä c ^ g l In addition, since tenseness is concomitant with length in consonantal segments, we are motivated to choose the second feature over the first.

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