The evolution of the (alveolo)palatal lateral consonant in Spanish and Portuguese

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This paper provides a formal account on the evolution of the (alveolo)palatal lateral consonant /ʎ/ in Spanish and Portuguese, by considering the phonetic motivation for its variation patterns and by connecting its synchronic dialectal distribution with its diachronic pathways of change. The novel approach in this study presents a unified, constraint-based view of the role that the articulatory and acoustic patterns of the aforementioned consonant have played in its history and continue to shape its current dialectal manifestations. More specifically, it proposes that the three apparently disconnected transformations this consonant incurred at different points throughout the history of Spanish (i.e. /ʎ/ > /j/, /ʎ/ > /ʝ/, /ʎ/ > /ʒ/) and Portuguese (i.e. /ʎ/ > /j/) reveal, in fact, integrated steps of changes that compose its historical evolution, i.e. /ʎ/ > /j/ > /ʝ/ > /ʒ/.


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