Germanic and Romance onset clusters – how to account for microvariation
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In this paper the restrictions imposed on onset clusters in Standard German and Standard Italian are compared to the - minimally different - restrictions in the Germanic dialects of Tyrolean, Mòcheno and Lusern Cimbrian and the Romance dialects of Trentino. Both standard varieties allow onset clusters with a sonority distance (SD, computed according to the sonority indexes proposed in Parker 2011) of 4, marginally 3 intervals, while the corresponding dialects allow for SD = 2. The observed pattern of microvariation can be understood as minimal variation between grammars. We give a precise measure of this minimal grammatical difference by performing a typological analysis in the framework of Optimality Theory, yielding the typological properties of the system, understood as the necessary and sufficient ranking conditions generating every single language of the typology (Alber & Prince, in prep., see also Alber, Del Busso & Prince 2015). Minimal grammatical difference can then be defined as minimal change of the property values defining each language.