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Vowel Length From Latin to Romance$
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Michele Loporcaro

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656554

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656554.001.0001

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Vowel length in the Latin–Romance transition

Vowel length in the Latin–Romance transition

(p.18) 2 Vowel length in the Latin–Romance transition
Vowel Length From Latin to Romance

Michele Loporcaro

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 examines the loss of contrastive vowel length, based primarily on historical metalinguistic evidence combined with information from graphical notation and linguistic reconstruction provided by the Romance languages. Previous hypotheses on the demise of contrastive vowel length in Latin are evaluated against this evidence, and the conclusion drawn is that the rise of open syllable lengthening and the demise of contrastive vowel length are tied, chronologically and structurally. Key to this conclusion are the results of research on the difference between African Latin and the Latin spoken on the Italian peninsula during the Empire: these results guarantee that open syllable lengthening spread to Italy to become generalized at the latest around the mid-4th century AD, and that this is also the most probable dating—among the many which have been proposed in the huge literature on the topic—for the demise of contrastive vowel length.

Keywords:   Latin grammarians, Latin inscriptions, regional pre-Romance developments, Romance vowel systems, Latin vowel quantity

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