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La Spezia-Rimini Line

From Academic Kids

In the linguistics of the Romance languages, the La Spezia-Rimini Line is a line that refers to a number of important isoglosses that distinguish the eastern Romance languages from the western Romance languages. Languages from the eastern group of Romance language include standard Italian and Romanian, while Spanish, French, and Portuguese are representatives of the western group.

The line runs through northern Italy, from the cities of La Spezia to Rimini. North and west of the line, the plural of nouns was drawn from the Latin accusative case, and usually ends in -s regardless of grammatical gender or declension. South and east of the line, the plurals of nouns were usually taken from the Latin nominative case, and change the vowels to form the plurals. Compare the plurals of cognate nouns in Italian and Spanish:

Italian Spanish Latin nom. pl. Latin acc. pl. meaning

vita, vite vida, vidas vitae vitās life, lives
lupo, lupi lobo, lobos lupī lupōs wolf, wolves

Another isogloss that falls on the La Spezia-Rimini line deals with the voicing of certain consonants that occur between vowels. Thus, Latin focus/focum (meaning "fire") becomes fuoco in Italian, but fuego in Spanish. Voicing, softening, or loss of these consonants is characteristic of the western branch of Romance; their retention is characteristic of eastern Romance. Instability of short vowels is also a trait of western Romance; as shown above, Latin lupus/lupum becomes lobo in Spanish, showing both voicing and the merger of short Latin /u/ and /o/, while in Italian the short /u/ is preserved. Generally speaking the western Romance languages show common innovations that the eastern Romance languages tend to lack.

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