Rule scattering and vowel length in Northern Romance

  • Pavel Iosad


In this paper I reconsider the synchronic status of distinctive vowel length and vowel lengthening and shortening rules in Northern Romance varieties, in light of Loporcaro’s (2015) wide-ranging study of vowel quantity in numerous Romance dialects. Loporcaro (2015) argues that these varieties possess distinctive, phonemic vowel length, and mostly do not have synchronic rules that produce surface long vowels, contrary to many previous analyses of the relevant patterns. In this paper, I argue instead that that lexical vowel length distinctions coexist, in some Northern Romance varieties, with productive phonological rules manipulating vowel quantity. This co- existence is best understood with recourse to the life cycle of phonological processes, and in particular the notion of rule scattering (Bermúdez-Otero 2015). This approach not only allows us to reach an adequate interpretation of the basic facts but also makes further predictions regarding the status of quantity-manipulating rules, which also turn out to be correct, providing further support for the theory of the life cycle.