LSRL 63: Salvadorian Spanish in Toronto

Product no.: ISBN 9783895865640
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Salvadorian Spanish in Toronto

Phonological variation among Salvadorian Youth in a Multilectal, Multilingual Context

Michol Hoffman
York University, Toronto

This monograph offers an investigation of linguistic and social constraints on three variables (syllable- and word-final (s), syllable-initial (s) and word-final (n) in the Spanish of Salvadorian youth living in Toronto, Canada. Both final (s) and final (n) have been investigated extensively in many varieties of Spanish. However, most of these analyses have focused on Caribbean varieties. This study presents a multivariate analysis of (s) and (n) in Salvadorian Spanish, a lesser-studied variety. Furthermore, these speakers are members of Toronto’s diverse Spanish-speaking population, represented by many regional and social varieties in an English-dominant.

A multivariate analysis of linguistic factors constraining final (s) reveals that both phonological and grammatical constraints contribute to variation. /s/deletion is favoured by following continuants, a constraint also found for /n/ deletion. An analysis of /s/ deletion offers little evidence supporting functionalist hypotheses governing variation. Findings for position in noun phrase are similar to those found in previous studies (Poplack 1980, Alba 1990).

The variant realization of final (n) is also governed by phonological constraints. As in previous studies (e.g. Cedergren 1972, Lipski 1984), following vowels and following pause favour velar [ŋ], as do following velars. Following continuants favour /n/ deletion. Functional motivations do not appear to contribute to /n/ deletion.

Social factors contribute to the variant realizations of both (s) and (n). An analysis of social factors reveals clear social stratification for (s): /s/ retention, the variant with the most overt prestige, is favoured by women and speakers with the highest socio-economic status. The overtly positive evaluation for [s] is confirmed in an analysis of speech styles where rates of /s/ retention rise to almost 100% in the more careful styles (reading passage and word list).

Social factors also govern (n). While overtly prestigious [n] remains the most frequent variant overall, velar [ŋ], a traditionally stigmatized variant is favoured by speakers from the highest socio-economic group.

Furthermore, rates of the velar and deleted variants remain consistent across speech styles. These patterns point to differences in the social salience and meaning of (s) and (n) for these Salvadorian youth in Toronto.

ISBN 9783895865640. LINCOM Studies in Romance Linguistics 63. 221 pp. 2009.

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