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In linguistics, pausa (Latin for "break", from Greek "παῦσις" pausis "stopping, ceasing") is the hiatus between prosodic units. Some sound laws specifically operate in pausa only; for example, certain phonemes may be pronounced differently at the beginning or end of a word when no other word precedes or follows within the same prosodic unit, as in citation form. This is the case with the final-obstruent devoicing of German, Turkish, Russian, and other languages, where voiced obstruent consonants are devoiced pre-pausa as well as before voiceless consonants; the opposite environment is relevant in Spanish, where voiced fricatives become stops post-pausa as well as after nasals. These environments are often termed pre-pausal and post-pausal, respectively; the phrases in pausa and pausal form are often taken to mean at the end of a prosodic unit, in pre-pausal position, as pre-pausal effects are more common than post-pausal ones.
In English, the last stressed syllable before a pausa receives tonic stress, giving the illusion of a distinction between primary and secondary stress. In dialects of English with linking or intrusive R (a type of liaison), the r is not realized in pausa, even when the following word begins in a vowel. Similarly, French liaison does not operate in pausa.
In Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, and other Semitic languages, as well as in Egyptian, pausa affects grammatical inflections. In Arabic, short vowels, including those carrying case, are dropped before a pausa, and gender is modified: the Arabic alphabet has a letter ة for the feminine that is classically pronounced [h] in pausa but [t] in liaison. In Biblical Hebrew, /laχ/ (Hebrew: לך) is the general feminine form of 'to you' but also the pausal masculine form.
In Spanish, voiced fricative/approximants [β̞, ð̞, ɣ̞, ʝ̞] are pronounced as stops [b, d, ɡ, ɟʝ] after a pausa, as well as after a nasal.
In Tuscan, the full infinitive form of the verb only occurs in pre-pausal position.
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