/s/ Aspiration in Ciudad Juárez and Speech Accommodation

Sandra Esparza, University of Texas at El Paso


Phonological variation in Spanish mainly affects consonants rather than vowels. One of the consonants that is part of the variation is /s/ (Hualde, 2005). The phonological process that commonly affects /s/ is aspiration and is defined as the absence of the oral place features while a glottal friction is retained (Clements, 1985). Aspiration occurs in about half of the Spanish-speaking world (Terrell, 1981) and constitutes one of the most useful stylistic and sociolinguistic variables that characterizes Spanish social dialects and discourse models (Lipski, 1991). Aspiration is present in several Spanish dialects in Latin America (Resnick, 1975). In the specific case of Mexico, it is found in the coast of Guerrero, Veracruz and Tabasco (Moreno de Alba, 1994; Lope Blanch, 1990). In all these places, aspiration is commonly found among speakers with lower levels of formal education. Mexicans are highly aware of this variant, as evidenced in humorous comments that employ mocking pronunciation of that feature (Menéndez Pidal, 1962). An interesting question to consider is what happens when people speaking different dialects (such as Veracruz Spanish and Juárez Spanish) coexist in the same area. In the case of /s/, the specific research question is whether the people of Veracruz reduce their use of [h] to accommodate more to the Spanish of Ciudad Juárez.. This thesis investigates the interplay of linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that prompt /s/ aspiration in Veracruz Spanish. Furthermore, it includes an analysis of speech accommodation which focuses on the acquisition of standard /s/ by people from Veracruz that have been living in Ciudad Juárez for an extended period of time.

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Recommended Citation

Esparza, Sandra, "/s/ Aspiration in Ciudad Juárez and Speech Accommodation" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10689022.