Naomi Nagy

Linguistics at U of T

Faetar, an isolated dialect of Francoprovencal spoken in one village in southern Italy, shows clear evidence of Italian influence due to extended contact. One indication that Italian has influenced this dialect is the presence of geminates, as Gallic Francoprovencal had lost all length distinctions by the fourteenth century, when Faeto was founded. I discuss the results of production experiments and describe the phonetics, phonology, and morphology of the consonant length distinction in this non-written language.

A medial-position consonant length distinction is evident, suggesting Italian influence, but there is no phonetic support for borrowing of the Italian raddoppiamento sintattico pattern of initial-position length distinction. Kattenbusch (1982 : 169) claims that single and geminate forms in initial position are allophonic variants, conditioned by the preceding segment. However, his transcriptions include many cases of transcribed geminate and single consonants appearing in identical environments. Acoustic analysis reveals no consistent lexical length distinction in such pairs.

I examine historical sources to see if there is a pattern either in Francoprovencal or in Italian which surfaces systematically as a consonant length distinction in Faetar. For this purpose, a comparison of Francoprovencal cognates to Faetar words containing geminates is made. Neither this nor a comparison to Italian cognates provides a satisfactory explanation of the source of gemination in Faetar.

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