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Egurtzegi, Ander (2018): On the phonemic status of nasalized /(h)over-tilde/ in Modern Zuberoan Basque. In: Linguistics, Vol. 56, No. 6: pp. 1353-1367
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Modern eastern Basque dialects have several conservative features, including the maintenance of historical /h/, which is lost in other dialects. Zuberoan, the easternmost dialect of Basque still spoken today, shows both this /h/ as well as a phonetically nasalized segment [(h) over tilde] which is a reflex of intervocalic *n. In this paper I argue that these two segments contrast in Zuberoan. Evidence for the contrast comes from both a newly described process of assimilation of /h/ to /(h) over tilde/ in nasal environments which then serves as a basis of the analogical extension of the nasalized aspirate in a context where it cannot be phonologically derived, and from neighboring Mixean Low Navarrese where the nasalized [(h) over tilde] has no other obvious source. Since a contrast between oral and nasalized aspirates is rare crosslinguistically, the Zuberoan and Mixean sound patterns discussed here should be of interest to typologists and phonologists alike.