Syllable structure is the proverbial skeleton or template upon which the sounds of a given language may combine to make sequences and divisions that are licit in that language. Classical Latin (CL) is known to have exhibited both open and closed syllable structure in word final position, as well as internally. The daughter languages of Spanish, Italian and Neapolitan, however, have evolved to manifest this dichotomy to differing degrees, due to both phonological and extra-phonological realities. The purpose of this study is to conduct a comparative analysis of The Lord’s Prayer (hereafter LP) in Classical Latin (CL), modern Spanish, Italian and Neapolitan in order to determine: 1) the distribution of open and closed syllables as these relate to position within the word; 2) factors, both phonological (e.g,, coda deletion, apocope, syncope, and degemination,) and extra-phonological (e.g., raddoppiamento sintattico or ‘syntactic doubling’ and other such historical morphosyntactic innovations as the emergence of articles), might explain the distribution of the data; and 3) whether the data support or weaken the theory of ‘open syllable drift’ proposed by Lausberg (1976) and others to have occurred in late Latin and into early Proto Romance. The LP analysis suggests that among all four languages of the study, most variation is found in word final position of polysyllabic words, where apocope in Spanish, and elision (or weakening) of word-final codas in Italian and Neapolitan, would ultimately produce two alternate extremes, one of an apparent tolerance for closed syllables in Latin and Spanish, and the other for exclusively open syllables in this same position in Italian and Neapolitan.
Ryan, John, "Open Syllable Drift and the Evolution of Classical Latin Open and Closed Syllable Structure into Spanish, Italian and Neapolitan" (2020). 2020 Faculty Presentations. 4.