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Variation in the verb in the Segrià: the pronunciation of the third-person morpheme in different contexts of use,
by Josefina Carrera-Sabaté


Binomial analysis by the Goldvarb programme indicates that in the debates the probability of occurrence of the traditional [e ] variant is very high (0.83) while in the news broadcasts this probability drops to a correspondingly low level (0.23) (Logarithm of similarity: -163041, sig=0.000, X2 test = 0.0000).

Looking at gender of interviewees, we observe that both in the debates and in the news broadcasts, women are surprisingly more likely than the men to maintain the traditional [e ] variant.

Table 2. (Logarithm of similarity: -175579, sig=0.000).

Women Men Women Men
0.32 0.00 0.94 0.80

5. General observations

Comparison of results shows similar or parallel linguistic behaviour in both the inhabitants of the village of Alguaire and the speakers on Lleida television. Indeed, we observe that, in general, in predominantly formal speech events, there is a tendency to use phonological forms that coincide with the written standard and, as a consequence, to begin to lose the morphology which has traditionally characterised the Lleidatà dialect.

Analysis of the most formal speech events shows that realisations of the verb morphemes can be classified in three well differentiated groups clustering by event: a) those occurring in the television newscasts, where the probability of maintaining [e] is a low 0.23; b) the realisations recorded during the questionnaire and responses to the same carried out with villagers of Alguaire, where the probability of maintaining [e] is a high 0.819; c) the phonological realisations culled from the debates on regional television, where the probability of maintaining [e] is again high, 0.83.

This in turn enables us to explain variable loss of the traditional form [e] in favour of [] as a result of, in the first place, the influence of the written language on the spoken language – and this is especially clear, given that the lowest incidence of the traditional variant is found in written discourse intended for oral delivery (news bulletins); and in the second place, the fact that in general, in the Lleida dialect, the unstressed vowels written <a> are pronounced []. Among speakers in the Alguaire sample, it can be seen that length of schooling in Catalan is a crucial factor in explaining the loss of dialect features, once again corroborating the connection between the oral and written language.

In less formal speech there is absolute maintenance of the traditional [e] in the spontaneous conversation of the Alguaire interviewees, other than just sporadic occurrence of [] among speakers aged 6 to 11. Alongside this, we find quite marked alternation with the imperfect indicative endings, between [a e] and [abeta.gif (138 bytes)e], which become reduced to  [abeta.gif (138 bytes)e] and [abeta.gif (138 bytes)] ein the most formal speech events. In the conversations and the interview, the most frequent realisation of [ae] is once again found among speakers of school age, when adapting their pronunciation to the norms of the written language.

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Josefina Carrera-Sabaté
University of Barcelona and University of  Lleida

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