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Bookmark and Share Paper 2937

¿Vas pa(ra) Málaga? The Reduction of para in Málaga, Spain: Effects of Frequency, Syntactic Category, and Social Factors
Rob Bedinghaus
238-252 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


It has been repeatedly shown that word frequency and social factors influence the production of sounds in spoken discourse (Bybee, 2002, 2006; Labov, 1972; Pierrehumbert, 2001). This paper contributes to our understanding of the effects of frequency, syntactic category (i.e., content vs. function words), and the age and sex of the speaker on the phonetic reduction of the Spanish preposition para (i.e., [pa]), using a corpus of sociolinguistic interviews from Málaga, Spain (Villena Ponsoda, Ávila Muñoz, Cuevas Molina, Díaz Montesinos, Vida Castro, 2002). This paper tests the claim of Bybee and Scheibman (1999) that the more frequently that words appear together in discourse, the more likely they are to be reduced phonetically. It also tests the claim of Jurafsky, Bell, Gregory, and Raymond (2001) that high frequency function words tend to reduce more often than high frequency content words and low frequency function and content words. Following Díaz-Campos, Fafulas, and Gradoville (2012), the current study takes into account the frequency with which para appeared with the word preceding and it the word following it in the corpus. Furthermore, the current study added the status of the following word as a function or content word as a factor. The results support theories purporting that frequency affects lexical representation and production by showing that para reduced more often in high frequency collocations with the preceding or following word than in low frequency collocations, and that this frequency effect was greater in the para+WORD collocations than the WORD+para collocations. Moreover, para reduced much more often when followed by a high frequency function word than when followed by a high frequency content word or a low frequency function or content word, supporting the notion that function words and collocations, namely high frequency ones, tend to favor reduction most frequently. Finally, the results for the age and sex of the speaker were mostly consistent with the previous research from Venezuela (Bentivoglio, Guirado, & Suárez, 2005; Guirado, 2007) in that older speakers reduced para the most and women reduced it slightly more than men, but did not show a clear enough difference between men and women to draw conclusions about the social status of this phenomenon in Málaga.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, Gillian Lord, Ana de Prada Pérez, and Jessi Elana Aaron
Table of contents
Printed edition: $310.00