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15 - The Persistence of Dialectal Differences in U.S. Spanish

/s/ Deletion in Boston and New York City

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2021

Danae Perez
University of Zurich
Marianne Hundt
University of Zurich
Johannes Kabatek
University of Zurich
Daniel Schreier
University of Zurich
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This study examines syllable-final /s/ deletion in sociolinguistic interviews with sixty-two Spanish speakers. Twenty are residents of New York City and forty-two are residents of Boston. Previous research in these cities has documented intergenerational shifts in the use of a range of variable linguistic features. Two types of linguistic interaction – language contact and dialectal contact – have been suggested as catalysts for these shifts, resulting in use of Spanish that is both more English-like and less regionally differentiated. Though coda /s/ represents a potential site for convergence with English, as well as for dialectal leveling, the present analysis finds evidence of neither trend. Patterns of variation in /s/ are intergenerationally stable, both in terms of speakers’ rates of /s/ deletion and the set of linguistic and social factors that give rise to structured variability. The intergenerational persistence of dialectal differences in /s/ highlights the need to investigate contact outcomes on a feature-by-feature basis and cautions against the assumption that linguistic contact guarantees language change.

English and Spanish
World Languages in Interaction
, pp. 312 - 334
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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