José Ignacio Hualde
The native Basque lexicon contains exceedingly words beginning with a voiceless stop. In the intervocalic position, on the other hand, both voiced and voiceless stops occur in robust phonological contrast. In borrowings from Latin and Romance as well, we find considerable fluctuation in the treatment of word-initial stops, with a preference for voiced segments, but intervocalic stops generally preserve the voicing specification of the source language. Michelena, building on an earlier proposal by Martinet, provided a historical account for this distribution based on a hypothesized distinction between fortis and lenis consonants in pre-Basque. This hypothesis is widely accepted among specialists. In this paper the evidence is reviewed and a somewhat different hypothesis is advanced. I argue that a fundamental factor for the distribution of the two phonological series of stop consonants, which should be given greater weight, is the neutralization of the contrast in several postconsonantal positions. This is a phenomenon that affects morpheme- and word-initial stops and appears to be of great antiquity in Basque. No fundamental change in the realization of the two stops series from pre-Basque to modern Basque appears to be requiered by the evidence.
Hualde, José Ignacio. 1997. «Aitzineuskararen Leherkariak». Anuario Del Seminario De Filología Vasca "Julio De Urquijo" 31 (2):411-24. https://doi.org/10.1387/asju.8693.
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