The role of contextual and prosodic factors on consonant lenition and elision. The case of intervocalic [j] in Majorcan Catalan


This paper looks for an interpretation of the phonetic factors causing consonant lenition and elision to occur through an analysis of intervocalic [j] in Majorcan, a dialect of Catalan spoken in the Mediterranean island of Majorca. Articulatory and acoustic data for several Majorcan Catalan speakers still producing the palatal glide in all word positions and segmental environments show that the consonant is lower and more variable in intervocalic position than word initially and word finally. Lowering is enhanced by the presence of contextual low and mid low front vowels, mostly so if stressed and placed immediately after the palatal glide. Inspection of [VjV] formant trajectories suggests that, in spite of undergoing articulatory reduction, [j] is produced with an independent articulatory gesture; moreover, coarticulatory effects between the palatal glide and the following vowel may render the former phonetic segment perceptually indistinguishable from the latter and thus prone to undergo elision. Strongly lenited variants of intervocalic [j] appear to be receding, and conservative speakers show specially low realizations of the palatal glide which may have been widely spread among the speaking population at the time that the intervocalic consonant underwent systematic elision in some areas of Majorca in the past. These findings are in support of the notion that the lenition and subsequent elision of intervocalic consonants are assisted by contextual and prosodic factors.

How to Cite

Recasens, D. & Espinosa, A., (2005) “The role of contextual and prosodic factors on consonant lenition and elision. The case of intervocalic [j] in Majorcan Catalan”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 4(1), 7-37. doi:


Download PDF









Daniel Recasens (Laboratori de Fonètica, Institut d’Estudis Catalans and Departament de Filologia Catalana, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain)
Aina Espinosa (Laboratori de Fonètica, Institut d’Estudis Catalans)



Publication details



Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: 87d87bee8ab177b6638e294c4573b249