In a previous study on derivational morphology (Eddington 1996), the alternation between the unstressed mid-vowels /e/ and lo/, and the stressed diphthongs /je/ and /we/ was seen to escape straigh tforward explanation in rule-based a nalyses. Diphthongization in Spanish was instead attributed to the influence of other lexical items which contain the same derivational suffix.

The purpose of the present study is twofold. First, an experiment was carried out to test the validity of the findings of the previous study. Spanish speakers completed a questionn aire in which they decided between neologisms containing mid-vowels or diphthongs (e.g. hielo 'ice'+ -azo 'augmentative suffix' could yield either hielazo or helazo). The high correlation between the findings of the two studies validates the original study and lends further support to the idea of lexical influence.

The second goal is to determine if lexical influence can account for diphthongization in inflectional morphology. In a nonce study by Bybee and Pardo (1981), the relationship between stress and diphthongization was "correctly" utilized by subjects in only 76% of the cases. An improved version of their experiment was carried out which resulted in an increase in "correct" responses (81 %). The fact that predicted responses did not reach near 100% is attributed to lexical influence. Diphthongization in Spanish verbs is not as regular as it has been assumed. There is a small group of verbs in which diphthongs appear in all verbal forms regardless of the stress pattern or verbal suffix. This probably influenced subjects' responses.

Original Publication Citation

1998. “Spanish Diphthongization as a Non-derivational Phenomenon.” Rivista di Linguistica 10.335-354.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Rivista di Liguistica







University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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