Conflicting standards and variability: Spirantization in two varieties of Uruguayan Spanish
Madeline Gilbert
September 2023

Most sociolinguistic work on variation focuses on how rates of occurrence or mean measurements differ between speech communities and speakers. However, speakers and communities also differ in variability - that is, in dispersion around the mean. The current study investigates the effects of speech style and multilingualism on variation and variability, by measuring the degree of intervocalic /bdɡ/ spirantization in spontaneous and careful speech. Data come from two varieties of Uruguayan Spanish, one monolingual (Montevideo) and one in contact with Brazilian Portuguese (Rivera). The results from a variation analysis confirm expected linguistic and social effects on gradient spirantization. An analysis of variability shows that, at the group level, careful speech is more variable than spontaneous speech, and the data from Rivera is more variable than that from Montevideo. Variability at the individual level differs slightly, suggesting that the group-level variability arises from between-speaker variability and within speaker variability in different contexts. I propose that multilingualism in Rivera may heighten variability because contact with Portuguese provides a wider range of available pronunciations, and that careful speech may increase variability because the available pronunciations are subject to conflicting standards that are most active in this style.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007592
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, 16(2), pp. 397-446
keywords: phonetics, variation, language contact, speech style, sociolinguistics, phonology
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