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Teoria i metodologia

Phonic variation in Catalan: inventory and assessment of methodology, by Miquel └ngel Pradilla Cardona


In this study, Plaza uses sociolinguistic methodology and focuses on analysis of the post-tonic variable /e/. He bases his research on the hypothesis that the native variant [i] is strongly stigmatized:

(1) (post-tonic) /e/ - <i,e,vocal neutra>

The speech community is Espluga de FrancolÝ and the real universe of the sample consists of individuals born in this town between 1931 and 1973 (20 informants-2.3%). As a result, with no clear justification, an extremely important age range is left out of the study – the population aged over 60.

2.9. PLA, J. (1995). "L'obertura de [vocal neutra] a Barcelona: el xava i altres varietats", in M. T. TURELL (ed.). La sociolingŘÝstica de la variaciˇ. Barcelona: PPU, pp. 165-219.

This study must be assessed from a different point of view than that used thus far, since the author only aims to put forward hypotheses and perform a qualitative analysis of the vowel variable in its acoustic aspect:

(1)vocal neutra- <a>

Pla indicates that the word xava is now popularly applied to the whole range of varieties of Catalan spoken in Barcelona opening [vocal neutra], with relative disregard to the ethnolinguistic or social origin of the speaker. The initial hypothesis is that this phenomenon becomes rarer as the age of speakers increases and is almost categorical among those born since the 1970s. This is therefore a historically recent change, at least in terms of current social dimensions.

The author collates the data by combining the sociolinguistic and experimental methods. He works with 8 male informants aged between 17 and 25. The justification for the absence of female informants lies in the fact that acoustic data vary in terms of the frequential pitch of vowel formants and, therefore, a standardizing statistical treatment would have been required to consider them as a whole.

2.10. MONTOYA, B. (1995). "L'observaciˇ del canvi fonol˛gic en el catalÓ balear", in M. T. TURELL (ed.). La sociolingŘÝstica de la variaciˇ. Barcelona: PPU, pp. 165-219.

This study, like that above, also has features distinguishing it from those before it: it needs to be catalogued under what is termed historical sociolinguistics.

Of the different angles adopted by this method to reconstruct linguistic changes, this study is based on processes that are still taking place and retrospectively monitors the point up to which it is possible to extract information. Montoya professes to reinterpret, using the postulates of Labovian sociolinguistics, certain phonic aspects of insular Catalan described in the first third of the twentieth century since dialectology (A. M. Alcover, A. Griera and F. de B. Moll). Thus, he tries to re-tread the path taken by a series of variables from the beginning of the century up to the present time.

The chosen variables are:

Three modifications in consonantism (dealt with succinctly due to a lack of data): 1) transient intervocalic elision of /-d-/ in Mallorca; 2) a tendency towards Menorcan ieisme; and 3) generalized suppression of intervocalic /-j-/ in Menorca.

The two vowel variables are given a more comprehensive treatment: 1) The change /'vocal neutra/ > /'e oberta/, a recent transformation of Balearic vocalism that centuries past had extended across the eastern half of Catalonia; 2) the other variable is /vocal neutra/ in absolute final position subject to change towards [e oberta].

2.11. CARRERA, J. (1999). L'alternanša A/E al SegriÓ. Doctoral thesis, University of Barcelona. (11)

As was mentioned in the introduction, this is the only research since 1995 that has dealt with a variable phonic phenomenon. This doctoral thesis, supervised by Dr. L. Pons and Dr. J. JuliÓ, enhances Labovian methodology with a series of new requirements, providing very successful interpretative results.

The itinerary used by the author to establish the definitive research includes exploratory studies (Carrera 1993, 1995a, 1995b), which formed the basis of the nuclear hypotheses of the Doctoral thesis.

For the first time in the Catalan-speaking scope, a contrastive analysis is made of the conduct of two towns towards a variable phenomenon: one deemed rural, Alguaire, and the other urban, Lleida. Both speech communities form part of the strict north-western geolect, LleidatÓ. The real universe of the sample are Catalan-speakers (36 informants in Alguaire – 1.6%; 36 informants in Lleida – 0.05%). An important innovation in the spectrum of ages is the study of children aged 3 to 5 years. Observation of this segment enables comparisons to be made between the pronunciation of school and pre-school children.

The variable rule aims to describe, explain and predict the presence of the variants [e] and [a] in:

1. absolute initial pretonic vowel spelt e;
2. non-absolute initial or medial pretonic vowel spelt e;
3. and non-absolute initial or medial pretonic vowel spelt e.

This is the most thorough study carried out thus far because, as well as using a very comprehensive means of statistical processing, it also involves an abundance of qualitative tests.


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