A phonetic interpretation of the sound changes affecting dark /l/ in Romance

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The paper reviews experimental and descriptive data on /l/ vocalization and elision and related vowel shifts in the Romance languages, and argues that a given sound change may be achieved through different evolutionary paths. While prevailing theories tend to attribute a single articulatory or acoustic cue to changes affecting /l/, we propose instead an explanatory account based on an evaluation of the relative prominence of cues in different contextual and positional conditions on the part of the listener. According to this proposal, several prominent articulatory and/or acoustic characteristics may be responsible for segmental insertions, segmental elisions and sound shifts.


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