Do Diminutives Make the Vowel Shrink?: An Account of Monophthongization in Spanish
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Spanish and Portuguese Undergraduate Research Theses; 2016
The Iberian Peninsula had many competing dialects in the Middle Ages. Over time the dialect of the Kingdom of Castile became socially prestigious and its usage spread throughout most of the Peninsula. The expansion of Castilian Spanish caused many language forms to be replaced with more prestigious variants. Such has been the surmised case for the diminutive suffix -illo, formerly –iello. This study aims to show that this change in the diminutive suffix was due to the adoption of the prestigious language variety that was used by the government of Castile. I also investigate less clear cases of the monophthongization that have been purported to be related to the diminutive change. For my study I recorded the occurrences of -ie/-i of 50 word pairs in a corpus from their first appearance to 1600 AD, then I sorted the words by frequency and classified their growth patterns on a 1-5 (low-high) scale. My study shows that as the -illo forms increase on the growth scale, the -iello forms decrease. Often, by stages 4 and 5, the -iello forms fall out of use and do not reappear. I also find that this tends to be the case with words of similar form that do not have the diminutive meaning. Some of the less clear words follow this pattern, but others do not, suggesting that some of the purported cases are part of different changes. This study confirms previous research on similar word form and change, with additional attention paid to how sociolinguistic variation influences the form of words and how they change over time with respect to frequency.
Academic Major: Romance Studies