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Castillian avoidance of off-gliding

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Beachxhair, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I'm reading about the history of Spanish phonology, and one linguist notes that there is an "avoidance of off-gliding diphthongs" in Castillian.

    Is there a reason as to why this was so?

    (The linguist was talking about the metaphonic effects produced by the yod, I think.)

    Thanks :)
     
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Could you provide the reference, because your brief summary is not very clear (to me). And maybe you could give some examples of words that should have developed a falling diphthong in Spanish, but failed to? It is true that compared to Portuguese and (Old) French, for example, Spanish has a lot fewer "ei" and "ou" and "ai" and "eu" etc.

    As far as I know, metaphony is an assimilation in height/closeness of a simple vowel. It does not produce diphthongs.
     
  3. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Beachxhair, if you take the y griega, you'll see that, according to Spanish spelling conventions, it is a (semi-)consonant rather than a (semi-)vowel in all cases but one: when it appears as a sole word (y=and).

    I don't know much about Old Spanish, so I cannot even imagine a word with the diphthong "ou" in Spanish (which is/was very frequent in Portuguese). The "ei" does occur (peinar, reino), as does "ai" (although, if I am not mistaken, only as "ay" in word-final position), "eu" is rather rare (only Greek words come to my mind). I think there has been some relatinisation of diphthongs: the few "au" diphthongs are in Greek words, the only exception that comes to my mind is "auto" (as "act" of a play) and "autodafé" ("acto de fé")
    CapnPrep, could you provide some examples for "ou" and "eu" (and the others, if you like), please?
     
  4. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    That is not quite the case. I quote (my translation) from Ortografía de la lengua española published by the Real Academia Española:

    The letter y can represent two distinct phonemes: one equivalent to that represented by the letter i in words such as muy, estoy or y; the other consonantal, the palatal sonorant phoneme in words such as reyes, cayado, hoyo.

    However, it is true that y is the only case where the letter is used to represent a vowel not forming part of a diphthong.
     
  5. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    What does the Ortografía de la lengua española say about stress in word-final diphthongs (falling)?

    As for all I know, stress in word-final syllables (in polysyllabic words) is marked in Spanish when
    - the syllable is open, i. e., ends with a vowel, e. g. seré, café, guaraní, Alcalá etc.
    - the syllable is closed (i. e. ends with a consonant)), but ends with either -n or -s, e. g. jamón, barcelonés, estáis, coméis

    The stress is marked when
    - the syllable is closed, i. e., ends with a vowel (exceptions: -n, -s), like reloj, Guadalquivir etc.

    The stress is not marked in monosyllabic words except when there's need to distinguish homophones (mi, etc.)
    The stress isn't either marked in monosyllabic words including rising diphtongs (vio, fue, fui etc.), but stress is marked when such diphtongs appear in word-final position: comió, encomié etc.

    The plural is usually formed by adding -s to the stem, except when the word ends with a consonant and you have to add -es.

    My conclusion is that in words like estoy, virrey etc. the letter y is treated like a consonant, because it's either the unstressed vowel of a diphthong (and the preceding vowel should bear the stress: *estóy, *virréy), or it's a consonant, and the acento tónico in the preceding vowel isn't marked in this syllable.
     
  6. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Examples in Spanish? The point is that there aren't any, or fewer than one might expect. There are no relevant examples in the DRAE for ou (they are all loanwords or compounds). For eu, one can mention feudo, deuda, beudo, leudo, lleudar.
     
  7. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    Your conclusion would seem to be correct.

    The Ortografía de la lengua española says:

    Las palabras agudas terminadas en y no llevan tilde. Ejemplos: virrey, paipay, convoy.

    and

    Palabras agudas son las polisílabas cuya última sílaba es tónica.
     
  8. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Thanks again!
     
  9. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    Not quite: aire, bailar, estáis, cantáis, ...
     
  10. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Yep, I forgot.
     
  11. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    Sorry to reply so late. Yes, that's true - metaphony causes a vowel to raise in its degree of aperture. According to what I read in Penny's A history of the Spanish Language:

    He lists 5 environments in which the tonic vowels of Vulgar Latin could be raised, and then says that these 5 environments leave out of account certain pieces of data, because
    certain VL vowels escape raising, depending on the precise sequence of vowel, consonant and glide, or vowel, glide and consonant.
    For instance, /ɔˈ/ or /oˈ/ in conditions 1 ([i̯] immediately after) and 5 (followed by [ɲ]) combined with a following glide to produce [wé], eg SOMINU --> sueño.
    Early textual evidence (spellings, such as 'coiro' and 'agoiro') suggests that
    /ɔˈ/ raised to /oˈ/, eg [kɔˈi̯ro] > [koˈi̯ro]. Then /oˈi/ evolves to /ué/, in accordance with the Castillian avoidance of off-gliding diphthongs, forestalling any metaphonic effect of [i̯] on preceeding /o/."


    That's how I got from metaphony to the avoidance of off-gliding. I was wondering why Castillian avoided (still avoids) off-gliding.

    Thanks for your post :)
     
  12. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    You left out this bolded bit of the quotation, which should point you in the right direction for more information…
     
  13. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I can't find the relevant essay/book by Malkiel. Has anyone on here already read it, or does anyone know what he says on the topic? Thanks :)
     
  14. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Maybe there is a tendency towards off-gliding diphthongs in some non-Castillian dialects, and the Castillian avoidance of such diphthongs is a "reaction" to this tendency? This is just a guess on my part.

    For example, Portuguese seems to have off-gliding diphthongs in many common places where Castillian has a monophthong: the preterite endings -ei and -ou in Portuguese correspond to -é and -ó in Castillian (ganhei "I won", ganhou "s/he won" vs. gané, ganó), and common Portuguese words like coisa (Sp. cosa) have a diphthong where Spanish doesn't.

    I know very little about the dialects spoken in Spain (Estremeñu, Asturianu, etc.), but it's possible that some of these dialects show similar diphthongizing tendencies to those seen in Portuguese.
     
  15. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I have read that in the history of Portuguese, there was a tendency to avoid Castillian features. Could the same have been true in Castillian? Thanks everyone :)
     
  16. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    If my observations are correct, Castilian has either gone one step further (feito -> hecho) or one back (auto -> acto, although auto still exists, in the meaning "act of a play" or "one-act play").
     
  17. Quiviscumque

    Quiviscumque Moderator

    Ciudad del paraíso
    Spanish-Spain
    Please notice that neither "acto" nor "auto" is true Castilian.
    "ACTO, 2ª mitad s. XIII, tomado del latín actus, -us ... variante semiculta de acto es auto..." (Corominas)
     
  18. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Pensaba que "auto" era fruto de la evolución de la fonología del castellano, mientras que "acto" era una relatinización, fenomeno muy frecuente en aquellas alturas.
     
  19. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    Apparently, Makiel's 1976 article is about the change from falling to rising diphthongs in Old Spanish, the case of -io < eu. Does anyone know what factors are thought to have influenced the change from falling -io to rising -eu?
     
  20. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    It's the other way around, from falling eu to rising io. Compare e.g. Portuguese eu, deus and Spanish yo, dios.

    You may have better luck finding this article, which builds upon Malkiel's proposals:
    Craddock, J. (1983) "Descending diphthongs and the regular preterite in Hispano-Romance." BHS 60(1):1–14.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013
  21. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I did find the article, but only on two websites where you have to purchase it. Did you find a site where you could read it online for free? Thank you :)
     
  22. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    1. Hey, everybody, double-check your spelling of "Castilian". Single L in English, in spite of the LL of "castellano".
    2. In my opinion we would all be better off without the terms "rising" and "falling" diphthongs. I'm sure I've seen them used in contrary ways in published sources.
    Usually, it seems that what is "rising" is the degree of sonority, or syllabicity, as in Spanish "bueno";
    but some respected linguists have used the terms so that what "rises" is the height of the tongue, as in Spanish "deuda".
    "On-gliding" and "off-gliding" seem to me like more reliable terms.
    3. Beachxhair, I admire your persistence. Never stop asking Why. But, in historical linguistics, be prepared for a disappointing answer like "drift".
    In the case of Spanish diphthongs, we're trying to fathom mostly unconscious processes in the minds of speakers who lived centuries ago.
    That said, here's a notion that I have entertained (but please don't quote me as being convinced about this):
    Castilian diphthongization of Latin stressed short /e/ and /o/ proceeded in both open and closed syllables (FOCU > fuego, FONTE > fuente).
    French and Italian diphthongized only in open syllables (feu, fuoco; font, fonte). Portuguese (fogo, fonte) didn't even enter the contest.
    So, more than most other Romance languages, Castilian has a large supply of on-gliding diphthongs.
    Maybe (here's the speculative part) languages have a limited tolerance for the complexity of having both kinds of diphthongs simultaneously.
    So when other changes throw together vowels in a potential off-gliding diphthong (e.g. "coiro"), "something" in the language says
    "Let's move this diphthong into an already-existing category: hence "cuero".
     
  23. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    There doesn't seem to be any confusion in this thread so far. To describe the change in aperture or closeness between the two elements of a diphthong, the standard terms are "opening" and "closing", as in Beachxhair's other thread about Old English diphthongs. I don't object to "on-gliding" and "off-gliding", except that in some cases neither element of the diphthong can be analyzed a glide (i.e. non-syllabic).
    Keep in mind, though, that many (most?) philologists believe that at the time when these vowels first underwent segmentation, the accentuation was on the first element: íe and úo. The shift to and / could perhaps be described as an elimination of off-gliding or falling/descending diphthongs (except in this case it would not be specific to Castilian).
     
  24. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    :tick: Very helpful, thank you Cenzontle :)
     
  25. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    Oops! I just checked my chronology for (1) Glide Metathesis (/korjo/ > /kojro/), (2) Diphthongization (/bɔno/ > /bweno/), and (3) Diphthong Nucleus Shift (/kojro/ > /kwero/).
    By my reckoning, the diphthong of /kojro/ existed before the diphthong of /bweno/ did. My alleged "limited tolerance for...both kinds of diphthongs" didn't keep the /we/ diphthong from appearing in Castilian.
    So my "notion" described above needs some further development if it is to survive.
     

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