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Preliminary Evidence for Incomplete Neutralization of Coda Liquids in Puerto Rican Spanish
Miquel Simonet, Marcos Rohena-Madrazo, and Mercedes Paz
72-86 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Puerto Rican Spanish is usually described as one of the Caribbean Spanish dialects that neutralizes the liquids /r/ and /l/ in coda position (e.g. /árma/ is pronounced as [álma] 'weapon', and /álma/ is pronounced as [álma] 'soul'). However, Paz (2005) found that, although /r/ and /l/ had similar (continuant) realizations, they were kept distinct in the speech of one Puerto Rican individual. Additionally, in a perception experiment, Paz showed that Puerto Rican listeners identified words with continuant coda /r/ and /l/ with much greater accuracy than a group of Argentinean listeners, whose performance was not different from chance. However, Paz's production data were based on the speech of a single speaker who was not naïve as to the purpose of the experiment. In the present paper the authors extend Paz's findings by analyzing the acoustic characteristics of vowel+liquid sequences in the speech of four Puerto Ricans, two females and two males. The duration and the formant structure of these sequences were investigated. The results show that, although /r/ resembles /l/ in many respects, they are not identical (i.e., they are "incompletely neutralized"). Rhotic and lateral productions differed both in their duration (with /l/ being longer than /r/) and in the values of the first and third formants (with F1 being higher and F3 being lower in /r/); the results were robust for all four speakers. The present findings challenge the alleged frequency of coda /r/ and /l/ neutralization in Puerto Rican Spanish as the authors show that the liquids seem to be "incompletely neutralized".

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonology
edited by Laura Colantoni and Jeffrey Steele
Table of contents
Printed edition: $210.00