Typological variation in language contact: A phonological analysis of Italiot Greek
This dissertation investigates the phonology of Italiot Greek (IG) from both a synchronic and a diachronic perspective, pursuing two core objectives: first, to provide an up-to-date description of the phonological system of IG, highlighting the deviations from Medieval Greek as well as the vast cross- and intra-dialectal variation, and, second, to account for the typological changes IG has undergone and formalize the convergence with the Romance grammatical system. The description of the phonological system of IG is based on original data obtained via fieldwork in the IG-speaking enclaves (Salento and Calabria). The in-depth presentation covers phoneme inventories, phonological processes, the organization of the syllable, sandhi phenomena, and stress properties. Moreover, it focuses attention on the diachronic changes with respect to the consonant inventories and certain phonological processes. Special emphasis is placed on substantial modifications in syllable structure, compared to the Medieval Greek system, and the processes these changes have triggered; specifically, (a) the gradual reduction of place and manner features that are admitted in the coda, which is manifested through diachronic shifts towards less marked values; (b) the licensing of complex onsets at the left edge of the root, which allows long-distance metathesis of liquids. These phenomena not only differentiate contemporary IG from its ancestor as well as from virtually any other Modern Greek dialect, but also constitute crucial points of convergence with Romance dialects due to language contact. Within Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004), the dissertation proposes a novel typological analysis of these major changes in the syllable structure of IG. Following Alber & Prince (2015, in prep.), the analysis places IG within a broader typology of place and manner changes as well as long-distance metathesis and identifies the crucial ranking conditions, i.e. the typological properties, that define each grammar of the typological system. Minimally varying grammars, i.e. grammars that share all but one property value, are shown to constitute chronologically adjacent stages in the history of IG (see Alber 2015; Alber & Meneguzzo 2016). In light of this, stepwise diachronic changes are explained as minimal switches in the property values. Crucially, the divergence of the IG grammar from the Greek system and its converge with Romance is accounted for through the lens of minimal differences in the property values. Thus, the dissertation offers an innovative formal account of contact-induced grammatical change.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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