Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Rhotic variation and contrast in Veracruz Mexican Spanish

Travis G. Bradley, Erik W. Willis


Phonetic studies of Spanish rhotics report a wide range of allophonic variants of the syllable-initial trill /r/, which raises the question of whether the intervocalic contrast between /r/ and the tap /ɾ/ has been neutralized in many dialects. This study presents a spectrographic analysis of syllable-initial rhotics as produced by ten speakers of Veracruz Mexican Spanish in a guided, semi-spontaneous speech task. Trills that show a reduction in the degree of lingual trilling usually contain an approximant phase following one or two lingual contacts, which we represent as [ɾɹ] or [rɹ] in narrow transcription. Intervocalic taps show both reduction and elision, but those with a measurable contact are short enough to maintain an acoustic difference with the longer allophones of /r/. Taken with recent studies of rhotics in Dominican Spanish, these findings suggest that the contrast between /r/ and /ɾ/ can be maintained in terms of overall segmental duration even when there is no difference in the number of lingual contacts.

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