University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Recent advances in phonetic analysis have led researchers to re-examine sounds that were previously assumed to be contextually neutralized, or merged into a single pronunciation. By using fine-grained spectrographic analysis, linguists have discovered that in many cases where neutralization was assumed, sounds are actually incompletely neutralized. That is, there are small differences in the articulation of these sounds such that they are in fact not merged, even though impressionistic descriptions report them as such. However, many researchers argue that the differences in pronunciation found in linguistic experiments are the result of hyperarticulation induced by the formality of the laboratory setting. In order to test whether or not incomplete neutralization exists in spontaneous speech, this study utilizes sociolinguistic interview data to examine coda liquid neutralization in Puerto Rican Spanish. The results from this study provide evidence that incomplete neutralization occurs outside of the laboratory context shows that the degree of neutralization and distinction between coda and in this dialect is conditioned by social and linguistic factors.