Spanish complex onsets and the phonetics–phonology interface

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This study analyzes cross-dialectal phonetic variation in Spanish complex onsets in light of recent work on the phonetics&#8211;phonology interface. Two basic patterns of obstruent-rhotic cluster realization, vowel intrusion and coarticulation-induced rhotic assibilation, receive a phonetically-motivated explanation in terms of the temporal coordination of consonantal gestures, within the framework of Articulatory Phonology (Browman and Goldstein 1989, 1990, 1991, et seq.). Drawing upon recent developments in gestural Optimality Theory (Davidson 2003, Gafos 2002, Hall 2003), I propose an account in which the interaction among gestural alignment constraints generates the range of attested patterns. On the basis of stress restrictions, non-concatenative morphology, the universal non-contrastiveness of intersegmental gestural coordination, and sonority conditions on complex onsets, I show that vowel intrusion and rhotic assibilation are invisible to phonological processes that operate over segments and syllables. In contrast to theories which relegate gestural timing to a low-level phonetic implementation component, this study argues for a unified model in which gestural and non-gestural constraints are present in the same level of the phonology (Hall 2003). Once a <i>representational</i> distinction is made between segments and gestures in the phonological representation, a <i>derivational</i> mapping between phonology and phonetics becomes unnecessary to account for the invisibility of gestural percepts.


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