Daniel (mameluke) wrote in linguaphiles,
Daniel
mameluke
linguaphiles

Exceptional Hiatus in Romance Languages

I've done quite a bit of research on the following topic, and even done some psycholinguistic experiments based on it, but I wanted to get the intuitions of native Spanish speakers on syllabification.

When (unstressed) high vowels precede other vowels, the normal tendency is to turn the high vowel into a glide:
italiano [i.ta.ljá.no]
pienso [pjén.so]
idioma [i.djó.ma]
ciudad [sju.dád]
bueno [bwe.no]

However, numerous sources (Hualde 2005, The Sounds of Spanish, for one) have reported that for some dialects, especially Peninsular Spanish, there are exceptions to this tendency in careful speech. There are four major factors involved:

1) Initiality. Hiatus seems to occur just about only in the first syllable--so camion is [ca.mjón] but piojo is [pi.ó.xo]. Fiasco is [fi.ás.co] but mediana is [me.dja.na].

2) Glide Type (i.e. the following vowel). Underlying /ie/ is always [je], probably because in the history of Spanish, the open mid vowels broke into diphthongs, so there are a lot of words with [je] sequences compared to /ia/ and /io/. This seems to go against Initiality--we never get tiene as [ti.e.ne] for example.

3) Morphological Boundaries. If there is related word or a morpheme boundary between the high vowel and the following vowel, then we can get a hiatus instead of a diphthong: e.g. liada, /li+ada/ is [li.á.da]. Dueto is /du+eto/ (compared with dú.o) [du.é.to].

4) Complex Onsets and Codas. If there is a complex onset and/or a coda, the word might have a hiatus. crianza is [cri.án.za], cliente is [cli.én.te], truhán is [tru.án], fluencia is [flu.én.cia]. 

Native Spanish speakers, do you share these intuitions? Can these words be syllabified as I have done? Can words like siempre, miembro, niebla, etc. ONLY be syllabified as [sjem.pre], [mjem.bro], [nje.bla], etc. ? Finally, how were you taught to count syllables? Was that in school? Did your teachers or parents go over what to do with words like siempre, miembro, pienso, etc.?  Let me know where you are from and how old you are, as well.

Also, if this was too confusing, let me know, and I will clarify with more example words and sources.

Finally, please chime in if you are non-native speakers of Spanish and how you would syllabify these words. [Cje] does not exist in English, so I am guessing that L1 English speakers initially pronounce tiene as [ti.é.ne] before possibly leaning this phonological rule.

(One more finally--these rules are different in Portuguese, French, Catalan, Italian, and Romanian--if you are speakers of those languages, let me know what you think of words like these in those languages--i can provide sample words if you need them)

EDIT: I don't think I was totally clear with my first post. Tell me how many syllables you think are in the following words for these languages. Try not to apply normative rules, but simply state how many you think there are in your normal speech.

SPANISH:
trivial
fiasco
abierto
miope
piano
fiordo
idiota
sierra
Indiana
niebla

FRENCH:
pionne
championne
diol
mediane
viole
s'étiole
raviole

PORTUGUESE
aliada
copioso
piolho
viavel
aliança
miada

CATALAN:
miop
lionesa
radiòleg
aliança
habitació
viatge
pietat
aliena
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