Retroflexion of /l/ in Modern Greek dialects: the case of Aperathou (Naxos) dialect

Kalomoira Nikolou, Angelos Lengeris, Maria Xefteri


The present study examines the allophonic realization of the lateral /l/ as a retroflex approximant [ɻ] in Aperathou (Apiranthos) Naxos dialect, a phenomenon also attested in the Cretan dialect. Six speakers of the dialect (3 female and 3 male) were recorded conversing freely with a native speaker of the dialect. Our data confirmed that the retroflex allophone occurred before back vowels, in word-initial, word-medial and word-final position, in stressed and unstressed syllables and in consonant clusters. Crucially, retroflexion was blocked in syllable coda position, in which position the lateral approximant conformed to delateralization process. An acoustic analysis of the data revealed that the retroflex allophone differed from /l/ in terms of F1 and F3. Interestingly, a comparison between the Aperathou and the Cretan retroflex showed no differences in their acoustic characteristics in terms of duration and F1-F3 formant frequencies. Our results therefore support a close resemblance of the dialects spoken in Aperathou Naxos and Western Crete, at least as far as retroflexion is concerned.

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