16 February 2014

Rohena-Madrazo gives Hispanic Linguistics talk on Friday

We are pleased to announce the second of three talks in the Hispanic Linguistics Talk Series this year:

Marcos Rohena-Madrazo (Middlebury College)

Talk title: Diagnoses of a completed sound change: phonetic and phonological evidence for /ʃ/ in Buenos Aires Spanish

When: Friday, February 21st at 4pm

Where: 301 Herter Hall

See abstract below.

In this talk, I present a sociolinguistic analysis of the voicing variation of /ʃ/: [ʒ~ʃ] in Buenos Aires Spanish (BAS), which has been characterized as a sound change in progress from  /ʒ/ > [ʃ]. For example, in BAS the middle consonant in the words "allá" or "oyó" used to be generally pronounced with a voiced postalveolar fricative [ʒ], like the <s> in English "vision", but now many BAS speakers pronounce it with a voiceless postalveolar fricative [ʃ], like the <sh> in English "fishing". In order to determine for which speakers or social groups the devoicing change has reached completion, I implement a novel method that not only compares the percentage voicing levels of /ʒ/ to the inherent voicing variation of /s/, but also compares the phonologically conditioned affrication patterns of /ʒ/ to those of /s/. If the voicing levels of /ʒ/ are not significantly different from those of /s/ and the /ʒ/ no longer exhibits allophonic affrication tendencies, regardless of position, then one can conclude that the speaker's underlying postalveolar fricative is /ʃ/; they are a '’devoiced.'' The sociolinguistic results suggest that the younger, middle class speakers are ‘'devoicers"; however, other social groups also have "devoicers” and "non-robust voicers," which seems to indicate that the /ʒ/ devoicing change is still progressing and perhaps nearing conclusion.