Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

The importance of ten phonetic characteristics to define dialect areas in Spanish

Germán Coloma


This paper studies ten phonetic characteristics of the Spanish language (/s/-/θ/ merger, /ʝ/-/ʎ/merger, /s/-aspiration, /x/-aspiration, /ʝ/-assibilation, /r/-assibilation, /n/-velarization, /tʃ/-deaffrication, /x/- uvularization and /tʃ/-voicing) and analyzes their ability to define dialect areas. We conclude that there are five of them (/s/-aspiration, /x/-aspiration, /n/-velarization, /x/-uvularization and /r/-assibilation) which are particularly useful for that task, since they define between six and fourteen compact dialect areas. Geographic coherence is the main element used to evaluate the usefulness of the studied characteristics, together with some statistic and dialectometric properties. An interesting corollary is that, although they are the most significant phonological variables in Spanish, neither the /s/-/θ/ merger (seseo) nor the /ʝ/-/ʎ/ merger (yeismo) are particularly relevant as geolinguistic markers.

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