AuthorRamírez Martínez, Marta
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe present investigation examines the process of velar palatalization, a feature of Catalan, as seen in the Catalan and in the Spanish of the bilingual speech community of Majorca, Spain. Velar palatalization involves a change in a velar consonant’s place of articulation from velar to palatal; that is, /k, g/ acquire a secondary palatal articulation or acquire a completely new place of articulation. Velar palatalization usually occurs before /i, e, ɛ/ due to coarticulation. Some languages, however, also present this feature before /a, ə/ and word-finally. This is the case of certain dialects of Majorcan Catalan. Traditional descriptions have observed (a) the presence of velar palatalization before front vowels in all dialects of Majorcan Catalan (non-palatalizing area), and (b) the presence of velar palatalization also before /a, ə/, and word-finally only in certain areas of Majorca (palatalizing area). The aims of this dissertation are threefold. The first aim is to provide acoustic data for /k/ in the Catalan spoken in the traditionally palatalizing area, taking as an example the dialect of Manacor, a town of 43,000 inhabitants on the southeastern area of Majorca; and in the Catalan spoken in the non-palatalizing area, taking as an example the dialect of Artà, a town of 7,400 inhabitants on the northeastern coast of Majorca. Providing acoustic data for this contrast is relevant because it has only been documented through descriptive observations. Secondly, my dissertation analyzes vowel /a/ in the Catalan spoken in the two areas. It has been suggested that velar palatalization before /a/ can occur in languages in which /a/ is especially fronted (e.g. French). A comparison of /a/ production from both areas can provide clues regarding the relationship between the process of /k/ palatalization and /a/ fronting (i.e., if /a/ is equally fronted for both areas but there is a palatalization distinction, this could be interpreted as evidence that /a/-fronting triggered /k/-palatalization for the palatalizing area). The third aim of this dissertation is related to societal bilingualism. In situations of language contact, it is not unusual for cross-linguistic transfer to occur; that is, it is common for a bilingual’s language A to affect the perception and production of this bilingual’s language B speech sounds. In particular, this dissertation examines whether velar palatalization, for the individuals that prove to manifest it in their Catalan, is transferred from their first to their second language. The results suggest, first, that there exists, in fact, a difference in the distribution of the process of velar palatalization between the two communities and, importantly, that the process of velar palatalization has been phonologized for the speakers of the palatalizing area. Secondly, the findings suggest that the processes of velar palatalization and /a/-fronting might have stemmed from a relationship of mutual influence in its inception. Finally, there is no evidence of phonological transfer of the process of velar palatalization from dominant to non-dominant speech. The implications of these findings to theories of phonologization as well as of consecutive bilingualism are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College