Prevocalic velar advancement in Chilean Spanish and Proto-Romance

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This paper examines various instances of prevocalic advancement in Chilean Spanish and Proto-Romance. It proposes that velar fronting is driven by the feature [−back] (Calabrese 2005), while [+front] is involved in palatalization. When both features are involved concurrently, palatalization occurs in one step, as in Chilean Spanish. The analysis is formalized in Optimality Theory as the interaction of featural identity constraints for vocoids and non-vocoids (Faith-V, Faith-C) with agreement constraints specified for advancement (Agree [−back], Agree [+front]). The analysis assumes that diachronically, a stage of palatalization occurred between velar fronting and the emergence of palato-alveolar affricates. Both of these stages are motivated by increased coarticulation of velars to adjacent front vocoids. A later stage of coronalization is explained through the rise of a dispreference against palatals for articulatory, aerodynamic and perceptual reasons. This analysis also accounts for the restriction of palatalization to diphthongal contexts in 1st century Proto-Romance.


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