This paper explores the relation between micro phonetic variation and sound change, by focusing on two ongoing changes in Argentine Spanish, namely loss of assibilation in rhotics and assibilation in palatals. These processes affect the same phonetic dimension (i.e., periodicity); are attested in the same communities and individuals (see Colantoni 2001; 2005); may create grammars with two assibilated post-alveolar consonants. The speech of 8 speakers, representative of conservative and innovative varieties, is compared by analyzing four acoustic parameters (cepstral peak amplitude, CV intensity ratio, voicing and center of gravity). Results indicate that conservative and innovative varieties differ in the degree of periodicity in rhotics (lower cepstral peak amplitude and larger CV intensity ration in conservative varieties) and in palatals (lower cepstral peak amplitude and larger CV intensity ratio in innovative varieties). Thus, the change proceeds by a manipulation of the degree of constriction, which eventually leads to the emergence of new variants. To conclude, it is suggested that the existence of micro phonetic variation may lead to the emergence of new variants (macro phonetic variation) via two mechanisms 'choice' and 'chance' (Blevins 2004:32).
Selected Proceedings of the 9th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Nuria Sagarra and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio
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