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Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Face, Timothy L.

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Explaining Variation And Change In Spanish Peripheral Fricatives

Natalia Mazzaro
Published Online: 2015-03-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/shll-2014-1169


The variation between labial and velar fricatives ([f] > [x], e.g. [x]uego fuego ‘fire,’ [x]umar fumar ‘to smoke’) frequently occurs in disparate Spanish dialects (from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, New Mexico, among others) (Quilis 1993) and it is found in first language acquisition (Eblen 1982 and Greenlee 1992). The change [f] > [x] or [x] > [f] has also been observed in other languages such as English, Diola, Chinese, Tuareg, Hausa, among others (Foulkes 1997). Although the variation between [f] and [x] is so common cross-linguistically, there is no adequate understanding of the linguistic and social motivations that affect it. Using the variationist sociolinguistics framework (Labov 1972 and Weinreich, Labov & Herzog 1968), this study analyzes the variation of such fricatives in the speech of 25 native speakers of Corrientes (Argentine) Spanish. Results indicate that two main factors affect [f] > [x] variation in Spanish: i) phonetic context and ii) literacy (or lack of formal education).

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Published Online: 2015-03-20

Published in Print: 2014-09-01

Citation Information: Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, Volume 7, Issue 2, Pages 299–326, ISSN (Online) 2199-3386, ISSN (Print) 1939-0238, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/shll-2014-1169.

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