/s/-lenition and the preservation of plurality in Modern Occitan

Laurel Mackenzie, Laurel MacKenzie

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Abstract

This paper examines the variable weakening and deletion of /s/ in the Languedocian variety of Modern Occitan, with particular attention to how it has affected the system of plural marking in noun phrases. Using data from linguistic atlases, I demonstrate that /s/-lenition in this variety involves a stage of vocalization to [j]. I find that, where /s/ on the definite article has vocalized to [j], the immediately-preceding vowel of the definite article has undergone concomitant raising to [e]. This raising appears to preserve the difference between singular and plural despite the plural’s weakening /s/. I argue that these results support Labov's (1994) hypothesis that the meaning of a weakening element may be transferred to a stable, co-occurrent one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-73
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Linguistic Geography
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

Keywords

  • s-deletion
  • Occitan
  • dialect geography

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