The split of a fricative merger due to dialect contact and societal changes: A sociophonetic study on Andalusian Spanish read-speech

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Abstract

In line with a growing body of literature suggesting that mergers are reversible given the adequate dialect contact and social context, the present study examines the phonetic split of the Andalusian Spanish merger of ceceo into the Castilian Spanish feature of distinción. Specifically, the study analyzes 19,420 coronal fricatives produced by 80 Western Andalusian speakers from the city of Huelva and the nearby town of Lepe using a reading passage and wordlist. The analyses find that leaders of this change are younger speakers, women, those with more educational attainment, those of service and professional occupations, and those from Huelva. The implications are that large-scale societal changes have allowed for the split of the ceceo merger into distinción in both speech communities, albeit at different rates of change due to their unique socioeconomic histories, demonstrating that a split is possible given the right social context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-190
Number of pages32
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

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