To summarize, we have seen that Central Catalan has sound processes that target vowels occurring in positions where they do not receive stress (word accent) on the surface.

All of Central Catalans's contrastive vowels, the seven vowels /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, are represented in stressed syllables. However, the underlying contrast between the low vowel /a/ and the mid front vowels /e ɛ/ surface as schwa [ə] in unstressed syllables. In these cases, an underlying distinction between /a e ɛ/ is neutralized in a restricted context, but the sound that results from the reduction process is not one that exists independently as a phoneme in Catalan. Similarly, the mid back round vowels /o ɔ/ and /u/ contrast with one another when they have stress, but all of them are realised as [u] in unstressed positions. In contrast to the /a e ɛ/ to schwa neutralization, then, the /o ɔ/ reduction yields a vowel, [u], that does function contrastively in Catalan. These processes of reduction can be schematically represented as in (16).

(16) A schematic representation of vowel reduction in Central Catalan
Stressed vs. Usntressed
Stressed vs. Usntressed










Two rules are required to account for vowel reduction in Central Catalan, one for the set /e ɛ a/, and a separate rule for /o ɔ/. These rules are given in is presented in (17) and (18), respectively.

(17) Central Catalan alveolar stop assimilation (revised)
[-sonorant, -continuant, +coronal, +anterior]
[-sonorant, -continuant, αplace]
Condition: [+continuant] obstruents do not undergo this rule.

Vowel reduction in stressless positions is common across languages, and as we showed in the first section of this discussion, English displays similar sound behaviours.

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