A sociolinguistic analysis of intervocalic /b/ in Caracas speech

Avizia Yim Long, Lisa Baldwin

Abstract


The present study examines the linguistic and extra-linguistic factors influencing variation in the elision of the voiced bilabial stop /b/ in intervocalic position by native Spanish speakers of Caracas, Venezuela. The corpus for this study consists of 36 sociolinguistic interviews evenly distributed by sex, three socio-economic levels, and three age groups. A total of 1800 tokens (50 per speaker) were analyzed primarily impressionistically for elision or retention of /b/ in intervocalic position both word-medially and across word boundaries. The findings demonstrate that elision (i.e. articulatory elimination of the segment) is favored in a vocalic context flanked by back vowels, in unstressed syllables, and in word-medial position. Additionally, lower and middle class speakers favor elision as well as speakers of the youngest age group. An analysis of morphemic status suggests that elision of intervocalic /b/ is influenced by occurrence in ar verb tokens inflected for past imperfective aspect (e.g. estaba was-1/3SG-IMP), a type of conditioning previously attested in investigations of intervocalic /d/ (Blas-Arroyo, 2006; Díaz-Campos & Gradoville, 2011; Navarro, 1983; Samper Padilla, 1996). The present study offers a discussion of the role of phonological and morphological conditioning on the variation encountered as well as areas for further investigation.

Keywords


Spanish; sociolinguistics; intervocalic; elision; phonology;morphology; variation

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References


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