Rhythmic and prosodic contrast in Venetan and Sicilian Italian

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We compared the Italian of speakers from the Veneto, in the north of Italy, and from Sicily, in the far south, looking for evidence of rhythmic and prosodic differences. We found no reliable differences in scores for rhythm metrics (VarcoV, %V, VarcoC) for Venetan and Sicilian, with both varieties having scores similar to French and indicative of a greater durational marking of stress than Spanish. However, we found much stronger prosodic timing effects in Sicilian Italian, with stressed vowels in nuclear utterance-final position twice as long as in prenuclear utterance-medial position. We also found evidence of differential patterns of vowel reduction: Sicilian showed greater modulation of F1 and F2 values according to stress and prosodic position, indicating greater vowel centralisation in prosodically-weak contexts than in Venetan Italian. Overall, the results indicated greater prosodic contrast in southern Italian, and suggest that multiple factors contribute to the perception of rhythmic differences.


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