Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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This paper reports on an acoustic analysis of the phonemic tap-trill contrast (/ɾ/-/r/) for first and second generation speakers of Mexican Spanish who live in the Chicagoland area. First, it is shown that speakers most commonly produce phonemic trills with a single apical occlusion, although there is much individual variation. Second, nearly all speakers realize the tap-trill contrast by means of segmental duration, and this is especially true for speakers who favor zero or one closures in the phonemic trill. These data suggest that heritage speakers make use of the limits of phonetic variation to the extent that phonological contrasts are intact in their grammar. The findings have implications for disentangling the sources of individual variation in heritage pronunciation. Specifically, we propose that between-speaker instabilities in rhotic production result more directly from an inherently variable speech signal than from the language contact situation.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Chicago Spanish; heritage speakers; individual differences; phonology; rhotics; Spanish
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