A sociophonetic analysis of contact Spanish in the United States : labiodentalization and labial consonant variation
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The term labiodentalization is used in this dissertation to describe the linguistic phenomenon consisting in the realization of /b/, which generally corresponds to the voiced bilabial segments [b] and [beta] in Standard varieties of Spanish, as the labiodental fricative consonant [v]. The main goal of this dissertation is to analyze the effects of language contact on labiodentalization of the phoneme /b/ and labial consonant variation in Texas Spanish, with special emphasis on orthography and its influence on bilingual phonology. This project analyzes labial consonant variation in the Spanish of El Paso, Texas, from the perspectives of contact and variationist sociolinguistics. Specifically, it examines (i) if Spanish speakers from El Paso produce an auditorily perceptible distinction between [v] and [beta] or [b] as discrete categories; (ii) if they make an acoustically measurable distinction between these categories; and (iii) which sociolinguistic factors condition the use of and the distribution of [v] in the speech community. In pursuing these questions, a hybrid experimental approach that includes auditory and acoustic analyses for a production study is employed. Results reveal that bilingual speakers from El Paso, Texas make an auditorily perceptible distinction between the voiced bilabial and labiodental segments. Moreover, this distinction is correlated with the linguistic variables of consonant orthography and within-word position, while the most relevant social factors in relation to labiodentalization are English writing proficiency level, Spanish writing competence, and gender. Lastly, the best acoustic predictors for labial variation in the dialect examined are relative intensity and duration.