Jenny M.

Nadaner Department of Spanish University of California, Davis Abstract

Typological patterns and perceptual similarity of rhotics and palatals in Argentine Spanish
Palatal assibilation is widely recognized as the standard pronunciation of the single palatal phoneme /j/ in Argentine Spanish, resulting in the occurrence of the voiced /Ʒ/ or voiceless strident /ʃ/) in all phonetic environments. Rhotic assibilation of the standard Spanish trill, on the other hand, is seen as the marked variant across Argentine dialects (Colantoni 2001). Colantoni (2006) posits that current articulatory trends in two Argentine provinces show evidence of a partial reverse chain shift resulting in the deassibilation of rhotics while simultaneously increasing the degree of fortition of palatals. Other previous studies (Colantoni 2001, 2006) claim that the extension of assibilation in palatals has led to the deassibilation of rhotics; recognizing fortition of palatal obstruents (Baker & Wiltshire) and weakening of assibilated rhotics when co-occurring with palatal assibilation (Colantoni, 2001). This research provides an acoustic account that documents a typological pattern in which both assibilated rhotics and palatals are equally maintained. This suggests that the assibilation in one segment types does not always trigger the deassibilation of the other, i.e., that the phonological grammar of some speakers tolerates perceptual similarity. In Tucumán, a northern-central province of Argentina, native Tucumanos exhibit assibilated rhotics and palatals exclusively. The Tucumán dialect does not recognize either the standard Spanish trill or palatal as possible phonetic realizations in its speech patterns. Tucumanos maintain an equal level of stridency between co-occurring assibilated rhotic and palatal obstruent segments within words (i.e., desarrollando ‘developing’; arroyo ‘brook, stream’). Here, acoustic measurements also indicate that, in this phonetic environment, Tucumán Spanish fails to maximize the rhotic-palatal contrast. Additionally, the degree of stridency does not undergo either lenition or fortition (i.e., of the assibilated palatal). The empirical data comes from three informants from the capital cities of different Argentine provinces: 1. Buenos Aires (Capital Federal); 2. Tucumán; and 3. Mendoza. All informants are native Spanish-speakers who grew up in their respective Argentine province. Informant 1 (Buenos Aires, C.F.) is male while both Informants 2 (Tucumán) and 3 (Mendoza) are female. For purposes of data collection, each informant was asked to preform three verbal tasks: 1. Read aloud a story narration; 2. Read aloud a list of 15 sentences; and 3. Describe aloud a series of pictures (all of which elicit palatal obstruents). Included is a quantitative analysis using Praat. The spectrograms demonstrate which rhotic and palatal allophones occur in each of the three informants’ dialects as well as the the duration and percentage of voicing of each rhotic and palatal allophone produced. The data in this study serve as a point of departure for exploring in greater detail the dissimilatory process of rhotic deassibilation and palatal fortition proposed by Colantoni

. The data I have collected includes important new information about the Tucumán Spanish dialect that has not been previously studied. Further research is needed to better understand the extent to which perceptual similarity is permitted among the speakers native to the Argentine provinces bordering Tucumán.(2006). This suggests that the assibilation of one segment type does not always trigger the deassibilation of the other and permits perceptual similarity.