Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 September 2021
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.