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Sociolingüística catalana

An approximation to the study of processes of linguistic change in non-prestigious geographical varieties: the Conca de Tremp, by Sílvia Romero Galera


Thus it would appear that our aim of analysing the process of linguistic change of the three nominal morphological features of the aforementioned north-western dialect has benefited from the application of frequential and inferential calculations to data obtained from the corpus of spoken language on which our study is based. (2) Therefore, probabilities have been calculated for those cases where the characteristics of the data fit the parameters required by the software to treat the data and validate interpretation of its results – specifically, the linguistic variables of masculine definite article, singular weak personal pronouns and demonstrative adjectives. This procedure, performed using the Goldvarb 2.0 application, has enabled us to obtain results that can be generalised to other situations with the same characteristics as those under study. In the case of the linguistic variables corresponding to the weak pronouns of the first person plural and feminine possessive adjectives, we have worked with descriptive statistics. The corpus data have also served as a basis for the general description of the variety, as illustrated in the following section.

3. The speech of the Conca de Tremp: an update

Generally-speaking, the information available on specific aspects of the speech of the Conca is very scarce. For an approximation, we have used general descriptions of the north-western variety – mainly Veny (1989) for the geographical aspect; and Segarra & Farreny (1996) and Creus, González, Julià & Romero (2000) for the perspective on contemporary oral use. For descriptions of Lleidatà, we have used Turull (1990) and Solans (1990 and 1996) and for Pallarès, Coromines (1935) and Coll (1991). We have also consulted specific studies of neighbouring speech such as that of Terreta, which forms part of the current municipal area of Tremp, studied by Barrull & Sistac (1992: 51-62) and Tort (1992: 446-468); or the speech of the Pyrenean valleys of Àssua (Andreva, Ramoneda & Toldrà, 1992: 371-380), Àneu – the unrigorous work by Pol (1962/1973) and Sistac (1998a: 75-88) – and Cardós and Vallferrera (Coromines, 1935). We have also made more punctual use of works on phonetic features of Pallarès by authors such as Alamon & Andreu (1992: 363-365), or on lexical aspects (in particular, extracts from works by Violant Simorra and Joan Lluís), such as Lluís (1955/1994: 89-93) – and from the novels of the first era of Maria Barbal and Pep Coll.

Explicit references to the phonetic and morphological aspects sensu stricto of the Conca de Tremp have been taken from Alcover & Moll (1929-1932) and also Perea (2001), Griera (1949: 45-63), Mir (1983: 14), Coll (1990 and 1991: 21-29), field journals of the Atlas Lingüístic del Domini Català (ALDC) and the Corpus Oral de Variació Geogràfica in the Corpus del Català Contemporani de la Universitat de Barcelona. As regards lexicon, we have been able to obtain more complete data, mainly from the Diccionari català-valencià-balear (Alcover & Moll, 1930-1962) and, more recently, from Coll (1991: 30-73) and from Fortuny (1992: 401-429), author of a collection of vocabulary from the Conca de Tremp.

This bibliographical data, the active linguistic competence of the investigator and the corpus of work have formed the basis of the description of the linguistic guidelines currently defining the speech of the Conca de Tremp. This particular speech has been proposed with the dual aim of providing the issue with a status and of highlighting the subdialectal adoption of various features of neighbouring speech to emphasise its character as an area of intradialectal transition and the current influence of the different areas. We have classified the features according to whether they reveal the adoption of (1) general characteristics of the north-western variety, (2) characteristics of the Ribagorçanopallarès area, (3) characteristics of Lleidatà, or (4) features specific to the Conca del Tremp. Clearly, this proposal presents difficulties as regards compartmentation, since many features are common to different subdialectal areas. This aspect is particularly apparent in lexicon, which we have not discussed here as it deserves a much more thorough study.

(1) General characteristics of the north-western variety in the speech of the Conca de Tremp

We should point out the absolute currency of vocalic aspects, even those circumscribed to informal registers by standard proposals such as the pronunciation [a] in groups of initial e in syllables ending in a consonant. On the subject of consonantism, other general phonetic features of north-western Catalan are maintained, particularly less marked features, such as affrication of the voiceless prepalatal sibilant [tE] and the pronunciation of the semivowel [j] before a prepalatal fricative. Within the substantial intradialectal variation of the pronunciation of the –bl–, –gl– groups in north-western Catalan, in the Conca de Tremp (as in the Franja de Ponent, Tortosí and Valencian), the majority of pronunciations are approximants, whilst Pallarès uses gemination or lengthening in phonetic terms (Coll, 1991: 24; Sistac, 1998a: 65), and Lleidatà alternates between voiceless (Gili i Gaya, 1931) and approximant, occlusive and geminate pronunciations (Creus, González, Julià & Romero, 2000: 157). To illustrate the characteristics – particularly morphological – found in a balanced situation of alternation, we find elision and sensitisation of the –r of infinitives before an atonic pronoun. However, marked phonetic features such as the palatalization of certain vowels in contact with a consonantal sound are in clear recession. For example, the –in– group: cuina [‘ku/e ], feina [‘fe/e ].

Morphological aspects, treated quantitatively, are in a position of advanced substitution in the case of the definite article (lo, los), singular weak pronouns (me, te, se) and the first person plural weak pronoun (mos), and in a position of alternation insofar as concerns feminine possessive adjectives (meua, teua, seua / meva, teva, seva). As regards lexicon, a significant decline in patrimonial forms can also be observed, which is associated with the disappearance of the traditional lifestyle.

(2) Characteristics of the Ribagorçanopallarès area in the speech of the Conca de Tremp.

The few vocalic features shared with Pallarès are already limited to older generations and informal registers. As with lexicon, very reduced, closed inventories that have fallen into disuse or that are scarcely used nowadays are often affected: archaic, medial and final [j] from diverse Latin groups, –Y–, –DY–, –BY–, –GY– (puiar, roi, maior), and where [j] is preceded by a front vowel, absorbing it: (passeiá>passeá). We can also detect reminiscences of the closure of [e]>[i] in the present indicative, imperfect and infinitive of the verbs tenir and venir. Continuing with phonetics, the only feature of the Ribagorçanopallarès area that maintains notable currency is the voicing – and spirantization – of –k– in demonstratives (aguest, aguell / aquest, aquell), which we will study in more detail from a quantitative point of view.

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