Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

An acoustic analysis of liquid gemination in the spanish of Havana, Cuba

Kristin M. Carlson


Among the most salient and extensively researched phonological processes of Caribbean Spanish after the categorical weakening of /-s/ is the prolific behavior of the implosive or post-nuclear liquids // and /l/. It has been repeatedly claimed yet remarkably unsubstantiated that the gemination of wordmedial, post-nuclear liquids to a following consonantal segment is a pervasive characteristic of Cuban Spanish, particularly of the western dialect region. To this end, the fundamental objective of the present study was to acoustically investigate said-phenomenon as it is purported to occur in the province of Havana, whose capital city models the linguistic norm for the rest of the country. Speech samples were elicited from twenty-four native speakers and spectrographic analysis was performed on these collected tokens in order to precisely identify the characteristics of both liquids in the above-mentioned segmental environment. Although we did not find any evidence of liquid gemination in the 120 words under analysis, we did observe two systematic and conditioned processes that may potentially help account for the impressionistic identification of gemination in word-internal position: 1) the insertion of an excrescent vowel between all [.C] sequences; and 2) an increase in the duration of the closure of the stop positionally subsequent to /-L/ → [Ø] by an average 30.9%. In light of the evident lack of empirical studies dedicated to the allophony of final liquids, we believe the implications of the findings in this investigation to be important for Caribbean Spanish in general and Cuban Spanish in particular and hope that this study may provide a foundation for future work on the phenomenon of liquid gemination.

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