An acoustic study of rhotics in onset clusters in La Rioja
Rhotics in Spanish onset clusters can be realized as taps, trills, or approximants depending on the dialect (Hualde 2005: 182–183). However, assibilated [i.e. fricative] pronunciations have been reported in some areas such as the La Rioja region of Spain (Alonso 1925: 169; Llorente 1965: 296–297; Navarro Tomás 1968: 210). The present study examines acoustic data from four participants from La Rioja in order to corroborate these reports. The effects of (i) place of articulation and (ii) voicing of the preceding consonant as well as (iii) the nuclear vowel on rhotic pronunciation are also examined. Rhotic pronunciation is analyzed in terms of (i) manner, (ii) duration, (iii) voicing, (iv) svarabhakti vowel occurrence and (v) svarabhakti vowel duration. The findings show few instances of assibilation; the majority of rhotics were realized as approximants. The results of this study have theoretical implications for the phonological status of rhotics in Spanish.