Word-minimality and sound change in Hispano-Romance

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This paper proposes that word minimality, correlated with a bimoraic foot, provides a unitary account of three separate historical developments in the Hispano-Romance languages, to date considered unrelated: the preservation of a word-final nasal, the change /ee/ > /ej/, and yod augmentation in four present 1st person verb forms: <i>soy, doy, voy</i> and <i>estoy</i>. It is suggested that two otherwise regular sound changes, -m deletion and identical vowel simplification (/ee/ >/e/), failed to occur in a small number of lexical items in order to avoid their impeding reduction to a subminimal size, and that yod accretion in the Old Spanish monosyllabic forms <i>do, so, vo</i>, and <i>est&#243;</i> was also driven by compliance with a minimal word requirement. In support of this analysis is the empirical evidence from the historical evolution of Hispano-Romance, which points to a weight-sensitive metrical system in which the bimoraic foot can be identified as the minimal prosodic word.


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