Language contact and dialect contact: cross-generational phonological variation in a Puerto Rican community in the midwest of the United States

by Ramos-Pellicia, Michelle Frances

Abstract (Summary)
This study describes phonological variation in a variety of Spanish found in Lorain, Ohio, considering the dynamics of interaction of two minority dialects, Lorain Puerto Rican Spanish (henceforth LPRS) and Mexican American Spanish (hereafter MAS), in the context of American English (henceforth AE) as a majority language. This work examines five variables (raising of /e/ and /o/, and the realization of an affricate, /r/, and /b/) across three LPRS generations. This project also explores the phonology of rural Island Puerto Rican Spanish (hereafter IPRS) transported to Lorain to determine if LPRS and IPRS display similar or different patterns of use of the variables. One hundred four people representing the Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and AE speakers of Lorain and the Puerto Ricans of the island were recorded. These groups were subdivided by generation and gender. All subjects read a word-list and a paragraph and participated in an informal conversation with the interviewer. In addition, a long-term observation of the community was conducted. The phonological variables were correlated with extralinguistic factors using VARBRUL. LPRS shows almost nonexistent (e) and (o) raising, preserving the pattern found in IPRS. Lorain MAS and LPRS are converging in their use of (j), but the merger varies within each age and generation. The two groups are diverging in their use of (r), presenting different degrees of divergence depending on generation and age group. The Spanish spoken by second and third generation LPRS speakers shows influence from AE in the use of a labiodental [v] for (b) and a retroflex for (r). Indirectly, AE influences first generation speakers not proficient in AE through contact with those speakers of the first generation with more exposure to AE. In general, the results reveal that LPRS exhibits continuity from IPRS preserving many of the features transmitted from IPRS though it also diverges from the latter to some extent. Although predictions are speculative, possibly in the future, due to the pressures of MAS and AE on LPRS, this pattern will change and LPRS will become a dialect different from IPRS, if it survives at all.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:dialect contact language variation phonological sociolinguistics spanish in the united states dialects


Date of Publication:01/01/2004

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