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«Year: 2016 On the origin of post-aspirated stops: production and perception of /s/ + voiceless stop sequences in Andalusian Spanish Ruch, Hanna; ...»

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Year: 2016

On the origin of post-aspirated stops: production and perception of /s/ +

voiceless stop sequences in Andalusian Spanish

Ruch, Hanna; Peters, Sandra

Abstract: The present study investigates the role of articulatory and perceptual factors in the change

from pre- to post-aspiration in two varieties of Andalusian Spanish. In an acoustic study, the influence of stop type, speaker age, and variety on the production of pre- and post-aspiration was analyzed in isolated words produced by 24 speakers of a Western and 24 of an Eastern variety, both divided into two age groups. The results confirmed previous findings of a sound change from pre- to post-aspiration in both varieties. Velar stops showed the longest, bilabials the shortest, and dental stops intermediate preand post-aspiration durations. The observed universal VOT- pattern was not found for younger Western Andalusian speakers who showed a particularly long VOT in /st/-sequences. A perception experiment with the same subjects as listeners showed that post-aspiration was used as a cue for distinguishing the minimal pair /pata/-/pasta/ by almost all listeners. Production-perception comparisons suggested a relationship between production and perception: subjects who produced long post-aspiration were also more sensitive to this cue. In sum, the results suggest that the sound change has first been actuated in the dental context, possibly due to a higher perceptual prominence of post-aspiration in this context, and that post-aspirated stops in Andalusian Spanish are on their way to being phonologized.

DOI: 10.5334/labphon.2 Posted at the Zurich Open Repository and Archive, University of Zurich ZORA URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-125742 Published Version

Originally published at:

Ruch, Hanna; Peters, Sandra (2016). On the origin of post-aspirated stops: production and perception of /s/ + voiceless stop sequences in Andalusian Spanish. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology, 7(1):1-36. DOI: 10.5334/labphon.2 lab

noh Ruch, H and Peters, S 2016 On the Origin of Post-Aspirated Stops:

Laboratory Phonology phon Production

–  –  –

JOURNAL ARTICLE

On the Origin of Post-Aspirated Stops: Production and Perception of /s/ + Voiceless Stop Sequences in Andalusian Spanish Hanna Ruch1 and Sandra Peters2 URPP Language and Space, University of Zurich, CH hanna.ruch@uzh.ch Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, D Corresponding author: Hanna Ruch The present study investigates the role of articulatory and perceptual factors in the change from pre- to post-aspiration in two varieties of Andalusian Spanish. In an acoustic study, the influence of stop type, speaker age, and variety on the production of pre- and post-aspiration was analyzed in isolated words produced by 24 speakers of a Western and 24 of an Eastern variety, both divided into two age groups. The results confirmed previous findings of a sound change from pre- to post-aspiration in both varieties. Velar stops showed the longest, bilabials the shortest, and dental stops intermediate pre- and post-aspiration durations. The observed universal VOTpattern was not found for younger Western Andalusian speakers who showed a particularly long VOT in /st/-sequences. A perception experiment with the same subjects as listeners showed that post-aspiration was used as a cue for distinguishing the minimal pair /pata/-/pasta/ by almost all listeners. Production-perception comparisons suggested a relationship between production and perception: subjects who produced long post-aspiration were also more sensitive to this cue. In sum, the results suggest that the sound change has first been actuated in the dental context, possibly due to a higher perceptual prominence of post-aspiration in this context, and that post-aspirated stops in Andalusian Spanish are on their way to being phonologized.

Keywords: sound change; Andalusian Spanish; /s/-aspiration; pre-aspiration; post-aspiration 1 Introduction 1.1 /s/-aspiration in Spanish The weakening of syllable-final fricatives is a process that is common to many languages (see Solé, 2010, for an overview with a focus on the Romance languages).

In Spanish, the weakening of syllable-final /s/—usually referred to as /s/-aspiration— occurs in many varieties and has been the object of numerous studies within the field of Hispanic linguistics. From a dialectological point of view, /s/-aspiration has been of interest since it allows an areal division of Spanish varieties (for European Spanish, see Samper Padilla, 2011; for American Spanish, see Canfield, 1981, or Lipski, 1994). The realization of syllable-final /s/ has also attracted a long-standing interest from the variationist community and has been shown to vary with speech style and with the social variables of the speaker (e.g., Fontanella de Weinberg, 1973, for Buenos Aires; Cedergren, 1978, for Panama City; López Morales, 1983, for San Juan de Puerto Rico; Samper Padilla, 1990, for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; and Momcilovic, 2009, for Madrid). Syllable-final /s/ in Art. 2, page 2 of 36 Ruch and Peters: On the Origin of Post-Aspirated Stops Spanish has been studied within the theoretical framework of the functionalist hypothesis (e.g., Hernández-Campoy & Trudgill, 2002; Ma & Herasimchuk, 1971; Poplack, 1981;





Terrell, 1979) since it functions as a plural marker for nouns, and in the context of resyllabification (e.g., Harris, 1983; Hualde, 1991) as a loss of syllable-final /s/ goes along with a change in syllable structure from CVC to CV.

In Spanish, the above-mentioned process of lenition is not limited to /s/ in syllable-final position, but also affects syllable-final /θ/ (e.g., capaz [kaˈpah]), and it may additionally affect syllable-initial /s/ as well as /θ/ in word-medial and word-initial position (Brown & Torres Cacoullos, 2002; Jiménez Sabater, 1975). In the latter position, however, it occurs less frequently and is often sociolinguistically stigmatized (Narbona et al., 2003, p. 205).

Several factors have been shown to favour a weakening of syllable-final /s/ in Spanish, such as its occurrence in unstressed syllables (e.g., Alba, 1990; File-Muriel & Brown, 2011), a fast speech rate (File-Muriel & Brown, 2011), high lexical frequency (e.g., Brown, 2009), and word-medial position preceding consonants (e.g., Alba, 1990; Momcilovic, 2009; Samper Padilla, 2011).

As the term indicates, /s/-aspiration in Spanish generally results in aspiration,1 i.e., a glottal fricative (e.g., pasta [ˈpahta]). However, early dialectological work (Alther, 1935; Alvar, 1955) reports on the high variability of syllable-final /s/ when it comes to its phonetic realization: many different phonetic variants are possible and effects often spread to adjacent segments. /s/-lenition may, for instance, be associated with the lengthening and/or lowering of the preceding vowel (Martínez Melgar, 1994, for Eastern Andalusian Spanish; Narbona et al., 2003) and/or with lengthening of the subsequent consonant (see Alvar, 1955, for Andalusian, and Ruiz Hernández & Miyares Bermúdez, 1984, for Cuban Spanish). This variability is reflected in the various transcriptions in dialectological and some variationist studies as, for instance, [∅], [s], [h], [hs].

/s/-aspiration in Spanish is usually considered a linguistic change that is stable (Gimeno, 2008; Labov, 1994). Labov (1994, pp. 583–585) describes the variable realization of syllable-final /s/ in varieties of Spanish as the result of a historical sound change, namely the “massive weakening and deletion of final /s/”. A closer look into the synchronic variation and the differences in the production of syllable-final /s/ among several Spanish dialects therefore could enhance our understanding of the historical process of /s/-weakening itself. In order to be stable across time, the variable rule (i.e., the probability of /s/ being realized as [h] or [∅]) must be acquired by children and be transmitted from one generation to the following (Labov, 1994, pp. 583–584).

Despite its variability, the phenomenon of /s/-lenition has usually been analyzed auditorily and categorized as either full [s], lenited /s/ [h], or elision [∅] to trace the process of lenition from an alveolar fricative to its loss, [s] → [h] → [∅]. Although this method gives an idea of the distribution of variants according to the independent variables (e.g., age, gender, register, or phonological context), it gives the impression that /s/ varies categorically, and it does not account for compensatory processes of /s/-lenition such as a lengthening of the preceding vowel or the following consonant. The method routinely used in variationist studies might have contributed to the view of /s/-weakening as a case of stable variation since it does not account for more fine-grained phonetic variation and change such as the above-mentioned lengthening of adjacent segments. Only a few studies have quantified /s/-lenition in Spanish with gradual, acoustic parameters such as duration, centre of gravity, or voicing. File-Muriel and Brown (2011) showed for Caleño Spanish (Colombia) how phonological context, speaking rate, and lexical stress variably The term aspiration is also used to denote the breathy release of a stop, transcribed as [th].

Ruch and Peters: On the Origin of Post-Aspirated Stops Art. 2, page 3 of 36 affected the gradual acoustic parameters of /s/, namely its durational, spectral, and voicing properties, suggesting that /s/-lenition should more appropriately be described as a gradient than a categorical phenomenon (see also Erker, 2010, and Torreira & Ernestus, 2012, for similar approaches).

The current study represents a counter-example to the commonly assumed stable variation of /s/-aspiration in Spanish. It will show how syllable-final /s/ preceding voiceless stops is in Andalusian Spanish variably realized as aspiration preceding the stop closure (e.g., pasta [ˈpahta]), following the stop closure (pasta [ˈpatha]), or both ([ˈpahtha]), and how its realisation changes in apparent-time, giving rise to a new sound in this variety, a post-aspirated stop. Consistent with previous studies (O’Neill, 2010; Parrell, 2012; Ruch & Harrington, 2014; Torreira, 2007a, 2007b), the study will refer to aspiration that occurs preceding the oral stop closure as pre-aspiration, and aspiration occurring after the stop closure as post-aspiration. In this paper, pre- and post-aspiration will be used as phonetic, not phonological, terms. It should be noted that from a phonological point of view the type of pre- and post-aspiration in Andalusian Spanish is different from that which appears in languages such as Icelandic or Scottish Gaelic that have it segmentally: in Andalusian Spanish, pre- and post-aspiration result from the debuccalisation of /s/ preceding voiceless stops, and (pre-)aspiration is not limited to this position but can occur in all contexts where syllable-final /s/ is debuccalized (e.g., isla ‘island’ [‘ihla], mismo ‘the same’ [‘mihmo], etc.).

1.2 /s/ + voiceless stop sequences in Andalusian Spanish In Andalusian Spanish — spoken in the southern part of Spain — syllable-final /s/ is generally weakened even in formal speech situations (Carbonero Cano, 1982; Villena Ponsoda, 2008). /s/-lenition can therefore be considered as a completed sound change in this variety. However, the realisation of lenited /s/ is itself highly variable synchronically.

The phonological sequences /sp, st, sk/ are of particular interest since they have recently been found to be produced with aspiration preceding the stop closure (henceforth preaspiration; Gerfen, 2002; O’Neill, 2010), with aspiration subsequent to the stop closure (henceforth post-aspiration; Parrell, 2012; Torreira, 2007a, 2012), and with a long stop closure (O’Neill, 2010; Torreira, 2007a, 2012).

Gerfen (2002) analyzed minimal pairs of bisyllabic words with V(s)CV, where C was a voiceless stop (e.g., casta /ˈkasta/, realized as [ˈkahta] vs. cata /ˈkata/) produced by 10 younger speakers of Eastern Andalusian Spanish (EAS). He found that /sC/- and /C/-sequences differed not only in the presence of aspiration preceding the stop closure, but also in terms of the relationship between stop closure duration and vowel duration, the latter being significantly greater in /sC/- sequences than in intervocalic stops. Torreira (2007a) investigated /s/ + voiceless stop sequences in younger speakers of Western Andalusian Spanish (WAS) and discovered that in this variety, words such as lista were produced with aspiration following a long stop closure (i.e., [ˈlitːha]). He further observed that the stop closure was longer in /s/ + voiceless stop sequences than in intervocalic stops, and longer than in /s/ + voiceless stop sequences in two other Spanish varieties with /s/-weakening, namely Buenos Aires and Puerto Rican Spanish (Torreira, 2007a).

A precise comparison of the production of /s/ + voiceless stop sequences among four Andalusian varieties was carried out by O’Neill (2010). Systematic differences between the two Western (Cádiz, Seville) and the two Eastern varieties (Almería, Granada) are reported for the duration of the stop closure and the aspiration following the stop closure.

Speakers from Cádiz and Seville were found to produce a shorter stop closure than speakers from Almería and Granada, and a longer voice onset time (VOT). This regional variation is interpreted as the result of a sound change in progress with the possible result that Art. 2, page 4 of 36 Ruch and Peters: On the Origin of Post-Aspirated Stops post-aspirated stops [ph, th, kh] are already phonologized in Western Andalusian varieties (O’Neill, 2010, p. 39).



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