A sociolinguistic analysis of /s/-aspiration in second-generation Madrid speakers

Natasa B Momcilovic, Purdue University


This investigation provides a description of the sociolinguistic distribution of /s/-aspiration in the speech of 27 second-generation Madrid native speakers living in the neighborhoods of Madrid proper. The presence of this phonological phenomenon is strong evidence that this dialect belongs to the group of non-standard Spanish dialects. /s/-aspiration is analyzed as it relates to the intralinguistic variable Phonetic environment (s$C, s#C, s## and s#V) and extralinguistic variables (Speech style, Sex, Education, Age, Interlocutor and Interviewer). Findings in this study showed that the highest rates of non-standard /s/ variants are found in the s#C position, indicating that Madrid Spanish belongs to the second, more advanced stage of /s/-aspiration. In casual conversation, rates of /s/-aspiration represent one third of all /s/ instances, while the non-standard features decreased as the speech style became more careful. The most prominent difference between any two sociodemographic groups with respect to /s/-aspiration was found between men and women, where women (14) were much more conservative than men (13). The variables Phonetic environment, Speech style and Sex were found to be highly significant in predicting the occurrence of standard vs. non-standard /s/ variants. Among the three education levels, the speakers with the lowest educational level (elementary school or less) were those who showed the strongest tendency toward /s/-aspiration. The other two education groups (those with high school and university degrees) were more conservative and behaved as if they belonged to the same sociodemographic group in casual conversation. The youngest age group (18-30) was found to coincide with the highest /s/-aspiration rates in casual conversation. Once again, the middle (31-45) and the oldest generation (46-65) showed almost identical, but higher rates of standard [s]. The variables Education, Age and Interlocutor and Interviewer were found to be non-significant in predicting the occurrence of standard vs. non-standard /s/ variants.




Hammond, Purdue University.

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