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Phylum: Indo-European

Genus: Romance

Lat/lon: 41.9100711, 12.5359979

ISO code: ita


Basic short series

stopp, bt̪, d̪k, g
fricativef, vs, zʃ
affricatets, dztʃ, dʒ
lateral approximantlʎ


Basic short series


Source: Krämer, Martin. 2009. The Phonology of Italian. New York, Oxford University Press.

Comments: The alveolar fricative does not contrast in voicing in northern Italian. The voiced fricative occurs in the vicinity of voiced stops and in word-internal intervocalic position. Elsewhere we find the voiceless form. In southern Italy, the alveolar fricative is voiceless in intervocalic position as well, while in the centre of the peninsula it shows some marginal contrast in intervocalic position (Kramer 2009: 46). ...contrastively long consonants occur, again, only word-internally. Word-initially, all consonants can only be short (except in the contexts to be discussed in section 7.3). The consonants [ts, dz, ʃ, ɲ, ʎ] are short (like all the other consonants) word-initially, but are always long word-internally. In word-initial position they are realized as long whenever preceded by a vowel. The voiced alveolar fricative [z], on the other hand, does not occur in long form (Kramer 2009: 47). Surface [ʃ] could then be the result of merging the manner feature of /s/ and the place feature of /tʃ/. If this procedure is generalized one might remove /ʃ/ from the inventory as well, assuming that all surface post-alveolar fricatives are derived from an illegal consonant cluster, such as /stʃ/, with the non-alternating instances of /ʃ/ taking a free ride on the alternating ones (Kramer 2009: 49). All seven vowels occur as long and short, depending on their position in the prosodic structure. It is even arguable that speakers distinguish three degrees of length. The length of a vowel, however, is completely predictable by its position (Kramer 2009: 51). A closer look at the less problematic diphthongs demonstrates that they actually are combinations of segments and that any restrictions on the inventory of diphthongs are not restrictions on the inventory of (contrastive) segments, but rather restrictions on the combinatorial options within higher units of organization than the segment (Kramer 2009: 52).

Contributed by: Anton Kukhto (kukhto@mit.edu)