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Sibilant voicing assimilation in peninsular Spanish as gestural blending

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Abstract

Voicing assimilation of /s/ before a voiced consonant is a widely reported feature of the Spanish sound system. This process is often described as stylistically determined, gradient and variable. However, there is a scarcity of non-impressionistic data supporting these claims. Following previous approaches to assimilation, we analyze voicing assimilation in Spanish as an instance of gestural blending. Taking this as a point of departure, this study presents an acoustic analysis of this assimilatory process in Peninsular Spanish, focusing on the main phonetic correlates in relation to the production of voicing, and tests the effect of different factors that have been shown to influence gestural organization. Our results show that the manner of articulation of the following consonant and the type of prosodic boundary intervening between /s/ and the triggering consonant affect the degree of voicing assimilation, while stress does not seem to play any role.

References

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