New Perspectives On Automatic And Morphophonological Alternations: Harmonic Processes In Two Peninsular Varieties Of Spanish

Farrah Neumann, Matthew Kanwit

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morphology; vowel harmony; alternation; morphophonology; allomorphs


The present study investigated vowel harmony (VH) in two varieties of Peninsular Spanish - Eastern Andalusian and Montañes. Despite both varieties exhibiting VH, the triggers and targets for each variety result in metaphonic alternations that are quite distinct. Although previous research has extensively documented the VH of Andalusia and Montañes, no study has yet systematically compared the two using a singular metric for determining automatic (i.e., phonological) and morphophonological alternations.

To address these questions, VH in each variety is described in detail and then classified as either an automatic or morphophonological alternation according to the following eight criteria indicated in Haspelmath and Sims (2010): phonological versus morphological or lexical conditioning, phonetic coherency, phonetic distance, restriction to derived environments, extension to loanwords, sensitivity to speech-style, creation of new segments, and restriction to the word level. In order to gain a more compete understanding of the morphology-phonology interface in Spanish, we explore similarities and differences in the VH of Eastern Andalusia and of the north of Spain. We seek to determine if VH in each region is more characteristic of automatic or morphophonological alternations.

An in-depth analysis of the VH in each variety is revealed that a binary classification was less appropriate than viewing these alternations on a continuum. The nuanced representation of these alternations on a continuum is a unique contribution to the literature on Spanish VH and provides a fresh perspective on the nature of VH alternations in Peninsular Spanish.   


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