Crypto-Variation in Italian Velar Palatalisation

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In this paper, I present new data from a nonce-word test that give us further insight into the synchronic status of the phonological process of velar palatalisation in Standard Italian. Velar palatalisation applies in the plural forms of some nouns and in some it does not. When confronted with novel words and the task to produce plural forms speakers split into two groups, those that apply palatalisation to all new forms and those that do not apply the process. The conclusion drawn from these results is that a uniform but ambiguous surface pattern is analysed in different ways by individual speakers, hence, showing crypto-variation. The results give evidence supporting Pater’s (2006) proposal that exceptional application of a process is due to lexical indexation of markedness constraints and exceptional underapplication is due to lexical indexation of faithfulness constraints in Optimality Theory.


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