LSRL 62: A Usage-Based Account of Syllable- and Word-Final /s/ Reduction in Four Dialects of Spanish

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A Usage-Based Account of Syllable- and Word-Final /s/ Reduction in Four Dialects of Spanish

Earl K. Brown
California State University, Monterey Bay

Based in the Usage-based Model of phonology, this study contributes to our understanding of syllable- and word-final /s/ reduction in Spanish, and consonant weakening more generally, by providing evidence that frequency factors significantly condition the reduction. An analysis was performed of 23,307 tokens of syllable- and word-final /s/ taken from four dialects of Spanish: Cali, Colombia; northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, United States; Mérida, Venezuela; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The results of multivariate analyses demonstrate that the token frequency of the word in which syllable- or word-final /s/ occurs significantly conditions this phenomenon, as does the string frequency of two-word combinations. Likewise, the frequency with which a word occurs in a phonological context favorable to reduction significantly influences this phenomenon. Words that frequently occur in phonological contexts favorable to reduction are reduced more often than words that occur infrequently in these contexts, when the local following phonological context is controlled for. Finally, this study shows that the influence of these frequency factors varies between dialects (and word positions), indicating that the overall rate of reduction is relevant to the relative magnitude of phonological and frequency effects.

ISBN 9783895865268. LINCOM Studies in Romance Linguistics 62. 266pp. 2009.

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