LINGUIST List 3.218

Fri 06 Mar 1992

Disc: Spanish la -> el

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , the Spanish la-> el rule
  2. Francisco Salguero, Spanish la -> el
  3. Mark Littlefield, 3.207 la > el

Message 1: the Spanish la-> el rule

Date: 5 Mar 1992 13:37:07 CST
From: <>
Subject: the Spanish la-> el rule

This is a reply to Manaster-Ramer's posting on Spanish la->el.
Manaster-Ramer concludesthat,since there is dialectal variation and
exceptions to the rule, recent theoretical claims based on these facts
must be "on shaky grounds". I don't see why the existence of this
variation would preclude providing a rule for unexceptional items in a
given dialect. Obviously different dialects will require different
analyses. For instance Harris (1989) in LI notes the exceptional
behavior of azucar and names of letters and also the existence of
dialectal variation with derived and compound words (fns. 5&7); but he
focuses on the dialect that is relevant to the point he wants to make.
I am not sure that the (lack of) applicability of the rule to new
borrowings would show anything either. For instance, nobody would doubt
that the rule of plural formation for Spanish words ending in a
consonant is to add /-es/; but new borrowings may not undergo the rule,
as in poster-s (*poster-es), cf. the integrated dolar-es 'dollars'.
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Message 2: Spanish la -> el

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1992 13:53:26 Spanish la -> el
From: Francisco Salguero <>
Subject: Spanish la -> el

I am a Spanish native speaker. My Spanish modality is Sothern Spanish (Andalu-
sian Spanish), but I think there are not many differences among Spanish
 speakersrelated to this question. If a new word like "arba" is introduced in
I would say "el arba", without doubting it.

By the way, I think that when you report the phrase "el alma de casa" there
is a mistake on it. Surely, you mean the phrase "el ama de casa" (the house-
keeper woman).
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Message 3: 3.207 la > el

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1992 12:31 EDT3.207 la > el
From: Mark Littlefield <LITTLEMGSNYBUFVA.bitnet>
Subject: 3.207 la > el

The problem with rules of phonology is that they must bend - and break-
to other rules. The rule for la > el before stressed "a" is valid, but
in two of the cases recently discussed, "la hache" and "la arabe", there
is an overriding rule; in the first case, the need for symmetry in naming
the letters, i.e., all letters are feminine, thus leading to the apparent
anomaly of "la hache." As for "la arabe," the overriding consideration is
the sexual identification of the person, not the fact that the noun is
derived from an adjective.
Mark G. Littlefield BITNET: littlemgsnybufva
Foreign Language Department INTERNET:
Buffalo State College TELEPHONE: (716) 878-5810
Buffalo NY 14222
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