LINGUIST List 15.2323

Wed Aug 18 2004

Sum: Lengthening in Italian and Hungarian

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <>


  1. Laurence White, Initial/final lengthening in Italian and Hungarian

Message 1: Initial/final lengthening in Italian and Hungarian

Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 07:19:41 -0400 (EDT)
From: Laurence White <>
Subject: Initial/final lengthening in Italian and Hungarian

I posted the following query (Linguist 15.1727) to the Linguist List
on 4th June 2004: ''I'm looking for references, unpublished data,
etc. regarding the lengthening of speech segments word-initially and
word-finally in Italian and Hungarian, having found little so far in
the (English language) literature. I'm interested both in production
data describing the magnitude and locus of each effect, and in
perception experiments on the use of lengthening as a cue to word
boundaries.''References to perception experiments on these word
segmentation cues in other languages would also be of interest. I'll
post a summary.''

Many thanks to all those who have provided me with information on
these subjects: 
- Pier Marco Bertinetto 
- Rebeka Campos-Astorkiza 
- Mariapaola D'Imperio 
- M�ria G�sy 
- Wouter Jansen 
- Mark Jones 
- Susannah Levi 
- Kristie McCrary 
- Elinor Payne 
- Mario Saltarelli 
- Mary Stevens

1. Italian production studies.

The respondents on word-initial lengthening alluded to the specific
case of raddoppiamento (fono)sintattico (RF), the
lengthening/gemination of a word initial consonant when preceded by a
stressed word-final vowel. This phenomenon occurs widely in
non-Northern dialects of Italian and has generated a large body of
syntactic and phonological literature, but little phonetic
analysis. Recent production experiments provide quantitative data,
however (McCrary 2004; Payne 2000, 2004; Campos-Astorkiza 2004). In
addition, D'Imperio & Gili Fivela (2003) examine both RF and
final-vowel lengthening at clause boundaries.

- McCrary, K. (2004). Reassessing the role of the syllable in Italian
 phonology: an experimental study of consonant cluster syllabification,
 definite article allomorphy and segment duration. University of
 California, Los Angeles PhD dissertation.

- Payne, E. (2000). Consonant gemination in Italian: phonetic evidence
 for a fortition continuum. University of Cambridge PhD dissertation.

- Payne, E. (2004). The structural impact of phonetic detail: Italian
 consonant gemination revisited. In L. Astruc & M. Richards (Eds.),
 Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics 1:165-181. 

- Campos-Astorkiza, R. (2004). What is raddoppiamento? Prosody and
 length in Italian. 34th Linguistics Symposium on Romance Languages. 

- D'Imperio, M., & Gili Fivela, B. (2003). How many levels of
 phrasing? Evidence from two varieties of Italian. In J. Local, R.
 Ogden & R. Temple (Eds.), Phonetic Interpretation: Papers in
 Laboratory Phonology 6. Cambridge University Press.

Another group working on RF have data from spontaneous speech:

- Absalom, M., Stevens, M., & Hajek, J. (2002). A typology of
 spreading, insertion and deletion or What you weren't told about
 word-initial gemination in Italian. In Proceedings of the 2002
 Conference of the Australian Linguistics Society, Sydney, July 10-12

- Hajek, J. & Stevens, M. (Forthcoming). Raddoppiamento sintattico and
 word medial gemination in Italian: Are they the same or are they
 different? The evidence from spontaneous speech. In Proceedings of
 the 34th Annual Linguistic Symposium in Romance Languages.

Farnetani & Kiro (1986) allude to the somewhat greater duration of
word-initial consonants than word-medial consonants in the general
case rather than specifically in RF-contexts. It may be inferred that
this lengthening is an effect than RF-type lengthening.

- Farnetani, E., & Kiro, S. (1986). Effects of syllable and word
 structure on segmental durations in spoken Italian. Speech
 Communication, 5, 17-34.

2. Hungarian production studies.

There appears to be little in the English language literature on
Hungarian initial and final lengthening, but Hungarian language
publications do provide data indicating that, for some phone classes,
word-initial lengthening may be observed in words in citation form,
but not in sentence context (G�sy 2004). Affricates, however,
manifest some word-initial lengthening in sentence context (Kov�cs

- G�sy, M. (2004). Fonetika, a besz�d tudom�nya
 (Phonetics, the Science of Speech). Osiris Kiad�: Budapest. 

- Kov�cs, M. (2002). Az affrik�t�k idoszerkezet�rol
 (On the time structure of affricates). In H. L�szl� (Ed.),
 K�s�rleti fonetika, laborat�riumi fonol�gia (Experimental phonetics,
 laboratory phonology). Kossuth Egytemi Kiad�: Debrecen.

With regard to final lengthening, the only reference uncovered reports
that phrase-final lengthening is attenuated in languages, such as
Hungarian, in which duration serves to contrast phonemic identity.

- McRobbie-Utasi, Z. (2003). Boundary signaling in relation to
 temporal pattern differences: the relevance of the role of
 duration. In Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of the
 Phonetic Sciences, Barcelona.

3. Italian and Hungarian perception studies.

For both Italian and Hungarian, perceptual studies regarding the role
of duration as a cue to word boundaries appear to be lacking.

Comments, questions and further information are most welcome.

Subject-Language: Hungarian;Italian; Code: ITN
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