lexical frequency, s, Spanish, Colombia


The literature on phonological variation and change abounds with studies about syllable- and word-final /s/ reduction in Spanish. In fact, “the aspiration and deletion of /s/ in dialects of Spanish may be the most extensively treated of all sound changes being investigated from an empirical, variationist perspective” (Ferguson, 1990, p. 64). Many factors have been shown to significantly affect this linguistic phenomenon. Terrell (1979) finds word length to be a significant factor in his Cuban data, with more deletion in polysyllabic words than in monosyllabic ones. Additionally, Terrell shows that redundant plural markers in noun phrases (that is, all but the first plural marker) are prone to deletion, such as the /s/ in muchas, luchas, and internas in the phrase “...por las muchas luchas internas” ‘...because of the many internal struggles’ (p. 605, my translation). Besides word length, prosodic stress has been shown to be a significant factor. Alba (1982) demonstrates that syllable- and word-final /s/ is reduced more often in unstressed syllables than in stressed ones. This finding concurs with what is known about reductive processes in general, that is, that phonetic reduction is more likely in unstressed syllables than in stressed one. In fact, longer and larger articulatory gestures can be considered part of the definition of a stressed syllable (Hualde, 2005). Finally, one factor has been shown almost invariably to have the strongest conditioning effect on syllable- and word-final /s/ reduction: the following phonological context. Lipski (1984) shows that across fifteen dialects of Latin American Spanish, in general, word-final /s/ is reduced most before a consonant, less so before a vowel, and least before a pause.

Original Publication Citation

Brown, Earl K. (2011). "Paradigmatic Peer-Pressure: Word-medial, Syllable-initial /s/ Lenition in Dominican Spanish." In Selected Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Romance Phonology, ed. by Scott Alvord, 46-58. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

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Book Chapter

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Cascadilla Proceedings Project







University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

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