Judeo-Spanish (JS) denotes those Spanish varieties preserved by the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. JS phonology retains many of the features of pre-Expulsion Spanish, such as the presence of voiced sibilants in word-medial and word-final intervocalic contexts. The present study, based on a phonetic corpus of modern Istanbul JS, shows that the distinction between voiced and voiceless sibilants is maintained word-medially, but that voicing in word-final intervocalic position is more variable than has been indicated in previous descriptions of JS. The difference observed between the realizations of sibilant voicing in word-medial and external sandhi contexts is interpreted as supporting a phonetic underspecification approach to obstruent voicing neutralization (Ernestus 2003, Steriade 1997). Among the phonological innovations claimed to exist in modern JS is loss of the tap-trill contrast. The present study of Istanbul JS documents a voiced approximant of variable duration in syllable-initial contexts, although this does not necessarily entail the neutralization of rhotic contrast. Frication and devoicing of word-final rhotics is observed in prepausal contexts, most likely due to phonological transfer from Turkish.
Selected Proceedings of the 8th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Timothy L. Face and Carol A. Klee
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