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Sound change and gender-based differences in isolated regions: acoustic analysis of intervocalic phonemic stops by Bora-Spanish bilinguals

Stephen A. Fafulas ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Nicholas Henriksen and Erin O’Rourke
From the journal Linguistics Vanguard

Abstract

This study examines Spanish phonemic stops in the speech of 15 ethnically Bora bilinguals (8 males, 7 females) living in the Peruvian Amazon, within the broader context of examining gender-based phonetic variation in small speech communities. We target pronunciation of intervocalic phonemic /p t k b d g/ extracted from sociolinguistic interviews. The acoustic analysis focuses on consonant duration and relative intensity of each target phoneme. The results reveal clear gender-based variation, with males adopting more lenited variants of certain phonemic stops than females. We discuss these findings in light of gender-based research on phonetic variation in communities undergoing sound change. More generally, our study contributes to the literature on language variation and societal contacts in small speech communities in Amazonia.


Corresponding author: Stephen A. Fafulas, Department of Modern Languages, University of Mississippi, University Park, MS, 38677, USA, E-mail:

Funding source: Indiana University Bloomington (YH86RTW2YVJ4)

Award Identifier / Grant number: Pre-Dissertation Research Travel Grant (2011)

Funding source: University of Mississippi (G1THVER8BNL4)

Award Identifier / Grant number: Liberal Arts Faculty Grant for Research and Creati

Acknowledgments

We wish to acknowledge Micha Fischer for statistical assistance, as well as Abby Olsen for the creation of the maps included in this paper. We are grateful to the Indigenous communities and all members of the Loreto region who shared their rich cultural and linguistic practices with us and without whom this research would not be possible. Additionally, feedback from two anonymous reviewers and Anne Pycha greatly improved the current version of the manuscript.

  1. Research funding: The first author also gratefully acknowledges funding from Indiana University (YH86RTW2YVJ4) and the University of Mississippi (G1THVER8BNL4) that allowed for travel to the Amazon and analysis for this paper.

Appendix

Table 3:

Tokens analyzed in corpus by gender, participant, and stop phoneme.

/p/ /t/ /k/ /b/ /d/ /g/ Total
Females 741
F1 17 20 20 20 20 13 110
F2 12 20 20 20 20 6 98
F3 18 20 20 18 20 12 108
F4 20 20 20 20 20 8 108
F5 20 (19) 11 14 20 (19) 18 10 93 (91)
F6 19 20 20 20 20 19 118
F7 19 15 17 17 18 20 106
Males 914
M1 20 20 20 (19) 20 (18) 20 (19) 20 (16) 120 (112)
M2 20 20 20 20 (18) 20 (18) 15 (13) 115 (109)
M3 20 20 20 20 (19) 20 (18) 10 (8) 110 (105)
M4 11 14 20 20 (14) 20 (14) 5 (4) 90 (77)
M5 20 20 20 20 (13) 20 (13) 20 (14) 120 (100)
M6 20 19 20 20 (11) 20 (6) 20 (15) 119 (91)
M7 20 20 20 20 (17) 20 (18) 20 (19) 120 (114)
M8 20 20 20 20 (12) 20 (11) 20 (16) 120 (99)
Total 276 279 291 295 296 218 1,655
Total of non-elided (275) (279) (290) (256) (253) (193) (1,546)
  1. The values in parentheses represent the total of non-elided tokens.

Table 4:

Total words and recording time in the corpus by gender of participant.

Total words produced by speaker in recording in Spanish Total tokens in lenition environments (% tokens analyzed) Length of interview in Spanish in minutes (′) and seconds (″)
Females 9,797 4,202 (18%) 137′40″ (2 h, 17 min, 40 s)
F1 1,406 674 (16%) 18′15″
F2 933 386 (25%) 15′36″
F3 1,180 575 (19%) 16′45″
F4 1,066 571 (19%) 16′44″
F5 1,238 586 (16%) 16′33″
F6 1,175 664 (18%) 18′25″
F7 1,689 746 (14%) 35′22″
Males 18,898 9,878 (9%) 235′20″ (3 h, 55 min, 20 s)
M1 2,112 1,010 (12%) 26′33″
M2 1834 871 (13%) 22′59″
M3 1964 1,024 (11%) 41′42″
M4 941 511 (18%) 21′26″
M5 2,716 1,515 (8%) 29′58″
M6 2,686 1,558 (8%) 39′57″
M7 2,477 1,278 (9%) 22′40″
M8 4,168 2,111 (6%) 30′05″
Total 28,695 14,080 (12%) 373′00″ (6 h, 13 min)

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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2021-0078).


Received: 2021-05-21
Accepted: 2021-06-15
Published Online: 2022-06-17

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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