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Opacity in Šmartno Slovenian

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2019

Peter Jurgec*
University of Toronto


Šmartno is a critically endangered dialect of Slovenian that exhibits three interacting processes: final devoicing, unstressed high vowel deletion and vowel–glide coalescence. Their interaction is opaque: final obstruents devoice, unless they become final due to vowel deletion; high vowels delete, but not when created by coalescence. These patterns constitute a synchronic chain shift that leads to two emergent contrasts: final obstruent voicing and vowel length (due to compensatory lengthening). The paper examines all nominal paradigms, and complements them with an acoustic analysis of vowel duration and obstruent voicing. This work presents one of the most thoroughly documented instances of counterfeeding opacity on environment.

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Many thanks to my main consultant, as well as the other participants in the elicitation experiment, for their hospitality, time and effort. I would also like to thank Karmen Kenda-Jež for her suggestion to examine vowel-length contrasts in Šmartno. I am grateful to Luke Zhou for help with segmentation and to Vivian Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta, Mia Sara Misic and particularly Tina Razboršek for their assistance with elicitation. This paper has benefited from the comments of Eric Baković, Yoonjung Kang, Alexei Kochetov, Andrei Munteanu, Will Oxford, Keren Rice, Peter Staroverov, Rachel Walker, the Phonology editorial team and an anonymous reviewer. The research reported on in this paper was supported by the Connaught Young Researcher Award and a Germany-Europe Fund grant to the author.


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