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Conflicting standards and variability: Spirantization in two varieties of Uruguayan Spanish

Authors
  • Gilbert, Madeline
Type
Published Article
Journal
Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2023
Volume
16
Issue
2
Pages
397–446
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/shll-2023-2015
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

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.

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