Vowel reduction and vowel harmony in Eastern Catalan loanword phonology

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The aim of this paper is to account for the phonological adaptation of loanwords in Eastern Catalan. As the phonology of these new words deviates from that of the native Catalan vocabulary set (with a certain amount of variation among speakers), the new phonetic features would seem to be borrowed from Spanish. We suggest that a new phonology has emerged whose purpose is to identify loans among the lexicon, the most striking element of this phonology being a harmony effect on stressed mid vowels in the presence of post-tonic [+ATR] mid vowels. The existence of unstressed [+ATR] mid vowels [e, o] in Eastern Catalan has been previously interpreted as lexical exceptions to vowel reduction (Fabra 1912 and Mascaró 2002, among others). However, the phonetic variation in the new lexicon is analyzed here as being fully consistent with Catalan phonology within the theory of lexical strata (Itô & Mester 1999).


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