[lg policy] Dissertation: Developments of the Lateral in Occitan Dialects and Their Romance and Cross-linguistic Context

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 7 15:32:44 UTC 2012

Dissertation Title: Developments of the Lateral in Occitan Dialects
and Their Romance and Cross-linguistic Context

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Occitan (oci)

Dissertation Director:
Edgar Radtke
Patric Sauzet

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis analyses sound changes that affected the lateral approximant
inherited from Latin in Occitan dialects, in the Romance languages, and in
a number of other languages from around the world. Chapter 1 gives a
comprehensive overview of the research carried out on the lateral
approximant; it discusses articulation and acoustics as well as abstract
representations of the sound. Chapters 2 to 5 are devoted to specific sound
changes which occurred in Occitan dialects at different points in time.
These developments are systematically compared to similar phenomena in
Romance and other languages. In chapter 2, I discuss the vocalisation of
the dark lateral in preconsonantal and word-final position as well as
intervocalically. It is argued there that Occitan and more generally
Romance followed an unexpected pathway towards vocalisation, which cannot
be explained by phonetic factors alone. Chapter 3 deals with palatalisation
of the lateral in onset clusters. Rather than in articulatory assimilation,
I propose that the origin of this sound change is to be sought in the
frication which accompanied the obstruent + lateral onset clusters.
Rhoticisation of the lateral, and its opposite, lambdacisation of the
rhotic, is the topic of chapter 4. In this chapter, I discuss duration
factors in these sound changes and present experimental evidence to
substantiate the idea that duration plays an important role. Finally,
chapter 5 looks at the developments of the Latin geminate lateral in Gascon
and other Romance dialects; according to common opinion, the Latin geminate
lateral underwent a retroflexion process, and I discuss how this might have
been possible from a phonetic point of view.


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