On the nuclear intonational phonology of heritage speakers of Spanish

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This paper employs the Autosegmental-Metrical model and the Spanish in the Tones and Break Indices framework to examine nuclear (i.e., final) statement and question intonation in ten heritage speakers of Mexican Spanish. The statement results indicate that our heritage speakers show evidence of a reduced inventory of phonological targets used to communicate different pragmatic meanings compared to native speakers. Their nuclear question configurations are quite distinct from, yet equally varied as, those of native speakers. The cumulative results imply that the intonation-pragmatics interface evolves differently in heritage and native speakers, and depends on at least utterance type and intended pragmatic meaning. We argue that on a more general level, exposure to diverse forms of intonational input is at the root of the interspeaker differences observed.


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