The prosodic structure of the Spanish verb: Evolution and configuration
This dissertation is a theoretical study of the Spanish verb paradigms' stress system. Its objective is to present a metrical analysis of Spanish verbs using the grammatical model proposed in Optimality Theory. Although this is mostly a synchronic study, a synopsis is included about the evolution of the Spanish verb from the Latin forms, as well as the prososdic alterations that took place as a consequence of the disappearance of the distinction in vocalic quantity and the innovation of prosodic stress in Proto-Romance.
The stress pattern of the Spanish verb system has put forth a continuous challenge in the literature, as it is debated whether verbal stress is phonological or morphological in nature. It is proposed in some studies that stress is assigned to abstract representations; others argue for the need of diachronic considerations. Even though most derivational studies acknowledge the importance of phonology and morphology in stress assignment, there is no agreement about the way in which both components interact within the stress algorithm.
In this study, the nature of this interface is defined. According to contemporary metrical stress theory, stress is understood as the result of the rhythmical structure of languages. Thus, it is found that Spanish unmarked stress is due, among other things, to the fact that Spanish parses its metrical constituents in syllabic trochees and shows a certain degree of sensitivity to syllable weight. On the other hand, some morphemes contain prespecified metrical information in their lexical entry, which alters the rhythmical structure computed by the general algorithm and is responsible for the stress otherwise unpredictable by strictly prosodic principles.
Optimality Theory provides a model that allow us to describe the stress mechanism of Spanish verbs. While the derivational model bases itself on the ordered application of rewriting rules, this new approach proposes that individual grammars consist of the same universal principles or restrictions: individual languages only vary in their particular hierarchy of these violable restrictions. In this way, we establish a set of ranked prosodic restrictions, by whose interaction the stress patterns of the Spanish verb can be systematically obtained.