Dark and clear laterals in Catalan and Spanish: Interaction of phonetic categories in early bilinguals

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40 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study reports on an acoustic analysis of alveolar laterals in two contact languages (Catalan and Spanish) as produced by two groups of Catalan-Spanish bilinguals (Catalan-dominant and Spanish-dominant) residing on Majorca. Catalan alveolar laterals have been reported to be "darker" (i.e. velarized) than Spanish ones. Recent sociophonetic research has suggested that Catalan and Spanish are gradually converging in this phonetic feature due to intensive contact and that laterals are sociolinguistically salient in Majorca. This paper examines the potential interactions between the social-indexical role of laterals in Majorca and the abilities of bilinguals to maintain two separate acoustic distributions for laterals in their two languages. First, it is shown that bilinguals tend to transfer the phonetic features of the sound categories of their native language to their non-native one even after having had early and extensive exposure to native input in their non-dominant language. Second, it is shown that while most bilinguals maintain two separate acoustic distributions for the laterals in their two languages, some participants do not. Social-indexical and cognitive factors that could explain this finding are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-678
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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