LINGUIST List 10.1503

Tue Oct 12 1999

Disc: The palatal plosive in Galiza

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Joaquim Brand�ode Carvalho, Disc: The palatal plosive in Galiza

Message 1: Disc: The palatal plosive in Galiza

Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 10:04:15 +0200
From: Joaquim Brand�ode Carvalho <>
Subject: Disc: The palatal plosive in Galiza

The reply sent to the List by Xos� L. Regueira (LINGUIST List: Vol-10-1498)
about the palatal plosive in Galiza contains, in my opinion, two misleading
remarks, independently from the actual pronunciation of the palatal sound
in Modern Galician.

1) The y-type pronunciation of historical "ll" is very probably due to the
strong influence of Castilian in Galiza : there is no yeismo in the
Portuguese area (except in the lowest Brazilian varieties : e.g., muy� for
mulher) while it is a widespread phenomenon in Spanish. But the historical
description of the facts by Xos� L. Regueira is somewhat inadequate :

>a) Many Latin clusters, such as -LJ-, evolved in Galician, as well as in
>Portuguese and Spanish, to a palatal lateral consonant (rendered with
>orthographic "ll" in Galician and Spanish, with "lh" in Portuguese).
>Spanish and Galician have experienced a phonological change which has led
>to some non-lateral consonants, instead of the original palatal lateral.

Actually, whereas Latin clusters such as -LJ- and -CL- changed into a
palatal lateral (henceforth /L/) in both Galician-Portuguese and Spanish,
/L/ was preserved only in Galician and Portuguese (hence gal. "ll", port.
"lh"), but gave place (before the Xth century!) to a palatal fricative in
Castilian, which is one of the ancestors of the Spanish jota (/x/) : cp.
gal., port. vello, fillo and sp. viejo, hijo ('old', 'son'). The Spanish
/L/ (orthograph. "ll") at issue in this discussion has an entirely
different origin, since it results from the Latin geminate -ll-, which
changed into a simple -l- in both Galician and Portuguese : cp. gal., port.
galo, galego and sp. gallo, gallego.
This is interesting on historical and sociolinguistic grounds, insofar as
it shows that the change from /L/ to y-type sounds in modern Galician is
due to the sole adaptation of the vernacular phonemic system to the Spanish
system, without lexical support. Hence, gal. muller is now pronounced muyer
*despite* the fact that Spanish has /muxer/, not */muyer/.

>This discussion can only be understood in the language-ideologically
>context of Galicia. CAC [the author of the previous message] supports the
>idea that the Galician language is a
>(rather rural) variety of the Portuguese language (hence the name
>"Galizan-Portuguese"), and therefore he is against the current process of
>standardisation of the Galician language. Contrary, I am a native Galician
>speaker and I support and work for the standardisation and the social
>spread of my language.
>In this context, CAC, ignoring the facts, understands my work as a spurious
>move to "separate" the Galician language from Portuguese, and he attempts
>to discredit it based only on his own suppositions about a "wrong speaker".
>This is absolutely false. CAC does not give any valid argument, but rather
>what appears to be only an ideological attack.

It is well-known that there is a debate in Galiza concerning the status of
the Galician language, and hence the norms to be adopted in its
standardisation process. As a native Portuguese speaker, in particular, I
don't want to adhere to any 'party' in this matter. Just an observation :
it is simply not true that talking about "Galizan-Portuguese" implies that
one "supports the idea that the [modern] Galician language is a (rather
rural) variety of the Portuguese language" ; it is also well-known that the
term "Galizan-Portuguese" has, mainly, a genetic meaning, and refers to the
linguistic (and cultural) community that existed in Galiza and northern
Portugal during the XII-XIV centuries, so that medieval Portuguese and
Galician literatures can be said to be one. The global rejection of the
term "Galizan-Portuguese" appears, indeed, to be only an ideological

Joaquim Brandao de Carvalho
1, rue Henri Poincare
75020 Paris
Tel./fax : 01 43 64 34 18
(If calling from outside France,
please replace the prefix '01' with '331'.)

Departement de linguistique
Faculte des Sciences Humaines et Sociales - Sorbonne
Universite Rene Descartes - Paris V

CNRS : ESA 7018, GDR 1954
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