Obstruent Systems of Northern Italy
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This paper compares the distribution laryngeal contrasts in obstruents in the Germanic varieties of Mòcheno, Cimbrian an Tyrolean with that in their Romance contact varieties. In the Germanic varieties, obstruents generally contrast word-initially and are neutralized to voiceless word-finally. Word-medially, effects of the stress-to-weight principle can be observed in that stressed heavy syllables can be followed by voiced and voiceless obstruents, but stressed light syllables can be followed only by voiceless obstruents. The Germanic varieties of the area exhibit also a certain degree of microvariation with respect to a process of intersonorant voicing of fricatives, which is interpreted as a conservative feature in the varieties that display it. Microvariation between varieties with intersonorant fricative voicing (Mòcheno) and varieties that do not have this process can be modeled as minimal re-ranking of two constraints in a Germanic core-grammar. The Romance varieties of the area contrast obstruents word-initially and word-medially. The Trentino varieties, furthermore, display a process of final devoicing, similar to the one observed for the Germanic varieties. However, final devoicing in Romance varieties need not be contact-induced since it is attested also for Romance varieties outside the area of contact and, more generally, generates unmarked structures which can arise independently.