The allomorphy of nǝn as a case of vowel/zero alternation in Teraman Abruzzese

Diana Passino
Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione - Università dell’Aquila - Via Giovanni di Vincenzo - 67100 L’Aquila (Italy)

Pubblicato 2010-01-16


This contribution, couched in the framework known as CVCV, draws attention to the allomorphy of the negative adverb nën in the Eastern Abruzzese dialect of Teramo, a poorly described language. This study shows that the allomorphy is phonologically conditioned and accordingly argues that the allomorphs have a single phonological representation, namely that of a geminate /n/. In CVCV geminates are represented as intertwined by empty nuclei, which, in the case at hand, are claimed to be alternation sites vocalized whenever their Empty Category Principle is not satisfied. The analysis proposed claims that the pattern of vowel/zero alternation shown by the attested surface forms of the negative adverb depends on the lateral regressive force known as Government and in particular on the governing power of the first vowel of the verb to which the negative adverb cliticizes, constituting a single governing domain. The representation of long segments as spaced out with an empty segment is an odd representation when looked at through the prism of traditional phonological theory. The Teraman data, however, provide evidence for a V position intervening in a long consonantal segment, showing that this position may be vocalized in the right circumstances. Failure to recognize the presence of a V position interrupting the long segment leads to a phonological tour de force in order to explain the syncope/epenthesis pattern recorded in Teraman.