Three initial groups en-, em- and es
Progressive velar vocal assimilation: corda>
Maintenance or otherwise of open vowels
Palatalisation of the implosive before [k]
The s in syntactic phonetics
The -ix group
The africative //
The lt final group before vowels
Loss of intervocalic -d
General trends observed on the phonetic level
on this study was that the incipient process of language normalisation which Catalan was
having on the phonetic forms of the traditional dialect in the county of Baix Vinalopó
was considerable, and especially on the language model used by schoolchildren, the social
group most exposed to the normative or standard variety of Valencian Catalan (henceforth
Catalan). For that reason it was a problem to decide on the criteria by which to select
the linguistic features to test the hypotheses.
variationism recommends the choice of a single linguistic feature which is described and
analysed in especial depth. Yet focusing exclusively on a specific feature would have
caused us to lose sight of important linguistic elements participating in this change.
in-depth variationist analysis of an individual linguistic feature was not appropriate.
What we needed rather was a more general view, therefore, with less depth, but allowing us
to obtain an overall view with plentiful (and representative) data. In this way, we would
succeed in defining common overall tendencies, finding new patterns and new patterns of
correction. Going into detail would have not allowed us to achieve this perspective.
the phonetic model of the county of Baix Vinalopó which we will now put forward takes
into consideration two social variables. On the one hand, there is age, a variable forming
a dimension along which there is very noticeable linguistic variation. We distinguish four
groups: a) the elderly over 60; b) adults
aged 37-60; c) young people 18-36; and d) schoolchildren
The second of
these variables has to do with the degree of contact that individuals will have had with
formal Catalan in the school. We look at 3 groups: a) individuals over 20
who had no schooling in Catalan (they are labelled no schooling in the graphs); b)
individuals under 20 whose education has been mainly through the medium of Spanish, even
though they have taken Valencian as a subject, and perhaps been taught one or two other
subjects in Valencian Catalan (they are labelled Lval); and c) individuals
under 20 whose education has been mainly through the medium of Catalan (we refer to these
a total of 138 individuals, distributed in an approximately proportional manner according
to the population of the localities and the divisions of the county of Baix Vinalopó. The
linguistic questionnaire contained 55 items and the conditions under which the
questionnaire was carried out could be described as semiformal. In this article we only
present a part of the phonetic characterisation based on the questionnaire responses.
2.1 Three initial groups en, em and es
We will now
look solely at the word embut ("funnel") since it is one of the few words
that have traditionally maintained the pronunciation [am]but, typical of most of
Western Catalan, almost all words that have en, em and es
in initial position are pronounced [e] in large part of the county.
As we can see
in figure 1, the realisation [am]but is not the only realisation amongst the
elderly, but it is the predominant one. In the adult and young people groups, the
frequency of the traditional form falls sharply, to an equal extent across the two groups,
in favour of the innovation [em]but. Schoolchildren opt for the prestige form embut
in some 95% of the cases. Figure 2 shows that the school curriculum creates little
difference in the responses from the school children; indeed, the raising of [am]>[em]
is to all intents and purposes complete and identical across the two groups.
Figure 1. Percentage by age for
phonetic group initial em-: embut (funnel)
Figure 2. Percentage by
school syllabus for phonetic group initial em-: embut (funnel
There are two
basic reasons that explain the swiftness of the change: a) the traditional form
[am]but does not reflect the spelling in Catalan (or in Spanish); b) It is
not pronounced this way in Spanish. Despite the fact that [am]but is the
traditional pronunciation, the weakening of this pronunciation is intense throughout the
county, and is already clearly present in the replies from the oldest generation.
a weakening of this traditional pronunciation occurs because neither the written Catalan
model nor that of the superstrate language Spanish give it support.
2.2 Progressive velar vocal assimilation: corda >
falls into three divisions according to whether the traditional model has or does not have
progressive velar vocalic assimilation:
Guardamar and Crevillent show no sign of assimilation.
north-east of the county has assimilation throughout to a generalised degree.
c) The rest of
the county is in the process of change toward velar assimilation throughout this
includes the capital, Elx.
In area b),
where assimilation is traditional (see graph 3), the three adult generations show no sign
of the pronunciation. A process of dissimulation has begun, however, already affecting
20% of the responses of the school-age speakers.
children in the Eval category are the ones who show the greatest increase in the
non-assimilated realisations, some 23%, compared to the 7% evinced by the Lval group
(see figure 4). The pronunciation typical of traditional speech, therefore, is most
vigorous in the Catalan of the group that have had least contact with the standard version
Figure 3. Percentage of velar vowel
assimilation by age, where this is the traditional model (area b): corda (rope,
Figure 4. Percentage of
velar vowel assimilation by school syllabus, where this is the traditional model (area b):
corda (rope, cord)
In area c),
the pronunciation cord[a] (see figure 5) still forms part of the traditional model,
which can be seen in the preference of the elderly for this form: it is selected 75% of
the time; while is clearly used less. In contrast,
the other two adult generations are clearly moving away from the cord[a]
pronunciation in favour of the assimilated version.
As for the
school children in area c), it can be seen that the non-assimilated variant is
being reintroduced, even though a minority realisation, but with a percentage reaching
almost 30%. Differences between the effects of one syllabus or another are once again
considerable (see figure 6). The pronunciation closest to the spelling not only in
Catalan but in Spanish too shows higher levels of reintroduction in the Eval
Figure 5. Percentage of velar vowel
assimilation by age, where this is not the traditional model (area c): corda
Figure 6. Percentage of
velar vowel assimilation by school syllabus, where this is not the traditional model (area
c): corda (rope, cord)
form with [a] has been recovered a little more in area c than in area b,
that is to say, young people of school age will use it where the traditional variant is
still alive. We could deduce that the traditional model exerts here some slight pressure
toward reintroduction. Note, however, that it is the school attenders of Elx who are
mainly responsible for this linguistic behaviour, and are the ones who least produce the
assimilated form. (3)
As can be seen
in figure 7, despite the impetus of the innovation, and its overall success among the
intermediate generations, the youngest generation (school-aged speakers) have reversed
this sound change. It is important to note that the open (or lowered) /o/ has been
closed (or raised) in precisely the area where the assimilation is most firmly
established. Thus 41% of school-aged speakers do not produce the assimilated form, a
little more than half of the latter pronouncing it , while of the remaining 59% who do
produce the assimilation, again more than half pronounce it .
7. Percentage velar vowel assimilation in county as a whole: corda (rope, cord)