Metafonia rumena e metafonia italiana a confronto: un’unica catena anaforica armonizzante?


  • Michela Russo


Rumanian and Italian Metaphony in Contrast: A Single Anaphoric Harmonizing Chain?

Metaphony is a phonological change in the height of a tonic vowel triggered by a final vowel. This article explains the origins of Romanian metaphony and compares Romanian metaphony with Southern Italian metaphony. Romanian metaphony has a particular evolutionary characteristic since it is not accounted for by means of a high final vowel; rather the feature low seems to be the key to understanding the process.

This assimilation can be expressed as involving control from right to left: in the Romanian language, control under contiguity applies: bare concatenation of two segments oØA-e or eØA-a has some relevance, i.e. a final segment, /«/ <ă> or /a/, /e/ all containing an A element, can contribute to the interpretation of the contiguous unspecified position interpreted as identical to the specified element A contained in the specified final position (ă, e, a).

In our view, metaphony in Italian dialects also results not from the spreading of a final I or U element as generally accepted in the literature, but as in non-concatenative morphology from the fusion of two elements, a final A element with an I or U element in the stem: already in Neapolitan Latin: filius Ciceri > ego Cecera (X century) we have a non-concatenative fusion of two heads I°/A° = e°.

In Romanian and in Italian dialects the element A is a virtual head and it controls contiguous elements as in Romanian bleanda (already 1536), broasca (1546) < Lat. *brosca, foarte (1527) < Lat. forte, ureache (1407) < Lat. oricula where control under contiguity is represented by the relation e(A)e-ØA and o(A)o-ØA. Also in Italian dialects (Neapolitan) Cecera, Horsa but Ursi, pertosa (< Lat. ūsu) etc. we have interdigitation of two strings: I°/A° = e° or U°/A° = o° and the same type of Stress Dependent Harmony.


Michela Russo


Université Paris 8 / UMR 7023 CNRS





Russo, M. (2014). Metafonia rumena e metafonia italiana a confronto: un’unica catena anaforica armonizzante?. Zeitschrift für Balkanologie, 50(2). Abgerufen von