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Bookmark and Share Paper 2865

Not Correct but Not Bad Either: Another Look at the Social Meaning of "Velar r" in Puerto Rican Spanish
Ann Marie Delforge
158-168 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper examines the social connotations of a pronunciation long-considered to be a salient characteristic of Puerto Rican Spanish. Attitudes toward posterior realizations of /r/, often described as "velar r," were measured indirectly using a matched guise task and directly via responses to open-ended, orally-posed interview questions. Data were collected from 115 middle-class, college-educated participants, 29 from San Juan and 86 from three locations on the island's southern coast ranging from rural to urban in nature. Results of the matched guise procedure indicate that use of "velar r" does not prevent speakers from being perceived as intelligent, educated professionals and, surprisingly, reveal that guises employing this non-standard pronunciation received higher ratings from Southerners than those including the standard alveolar trill on characteristics related to competence as well as for qualities typically associated with social attractiveness. Responses to interview questions demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of participants from both parts of the island were consciously aware of the existence of posterior pronunciations of /r/ and that most recognized them as typical of Puerto Rican Spanish. These comments also suggest that "velar r" fails to reliably index specific speaker characteristics because it is viewed as a wide-spread phenomenon used by many distinct kinds of individuals. Only minimal discrepancies were observed between responses of participants from San Juan and the South, two areas that have been said to hold different attitudes toward this pronunciation. Results obtained in all three southern communities were also similar, suggesting relative homogeneity of opinions in smaller towns and larger population centers.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Ana M. Carvalho and Sara Beaudrie
Table of contents
Printed edition: $220.00