Spanish Intonation in Contact: The case of Miami Cuban Bilinguals


Miami-Cuban Spanish


The current dissertation provides a preliminary description of the intonation of two utterance types in Miami Cuban Spanish: broad focus declaratives and absolute interrogatives. An experimental phonology approach was taken to collect linguistic data in Miami, Florida. The data was collected and analyzed with the purpose of answering the following three research questions: 1. What are the characteristics of broad focus declarative intonation in Miami Spanish? 2. How do Miami Cubans differentiate between absolute (yes/no) interrogatives and lexically and syntactically identical declarative utterances? 3. Is the intonation system changing through subsequent generations of Miami Cubans? What are the social and linguistic factors motivating the use of the observed intonation patterns? Miami Cuban intonation for a declarative utterance with two content words was analyzed as L*+H L+H* L-L%. It was revealed that there is a high rate of deaccenting in Miami Cuban declarative utterances. Absolute interrogatives were produced with two distinct intonation patterns, the first with a rising final F0 contour, L*+H L* H-H%, and the second with a falling final contour, L*+H L+H* L-L%. Miami Cuban interrogatives are differentiated from lexically and syntactically identical declaratives through the use of a rising final contour in the case of rising interrogative pattern and through the use of a higher F0 for both the rising and falling interrogative patterns. A sociolinguistic study was performed using a variable rule analysis in order to answer research question #3. The dependent variable examined was the final F0 contour for the absolute interrogatives: rising or falling. It was discovered that immigrant generation is a significant factor in the variation and that there is an intonational change occurring in subsequent generations. This variation, however, does not necessarily constitute a change in progress. The first generation favors the use of the Cuban-style falling intonation pattern while the second generation strongly favors the rising pattern for absolute interrogatives. The third generation, however, strongly favors the Cubanstyle interrogative. It was also determined that the social networks of individual speakers are a significant factor influencing the absolute interrogative intonation pattern used.

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A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the graduate school of the University of Minnestoa by Scott Mark Alvord in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

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Spanish and Portuguese