An analysis of vowels across word boundaries in Veracruz, Mexican Spanish

Janet M Smith, Tanya L Flores, Michael S Gradoville


This project examines vowels in hiatus across word boundaries in Spanish. Our findings are based on a corpus of seven female speakers of the Veracruz variety of Mexican Spanish. Previous research on vowel transitions has proposed several possible outcomes for vowel combinations across word boundaries in Spanish: hiatus, diphthong, reduction or deletion of one vowel, or creation of a new vowel. The purpose of this project was to investigate the conditions under which these outcomes actually occur in running speech using spectrographic analysis. In terms of hiatus, our results support those of a study conducted on the Spanish of northern New Mexico/Southern Colorado by Alba (2006), which concluded that maintaining hiatus was not the preferred outcome. Likewise, in the present study, 94% of our 148 tokens showed non-maintenance of hiatus. Our data did not clearly reveal a single preferred outcome among the non-maintenance tokens, but rather a mixture of tendencies. These varied widely by vowel combination and speaker. Another surprising outcome that deserves attention is centralization. Centralization was present in all four vowel combinations, occurring more frequently than anticipated, given that it is thought not to occur in Spanish.


Spanish; word boundaries; hiatus; diphthong reduction; vowel deletion; Veracruz

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