Edge strengthening and phonetic variability in Spanish /l/: An ultrasound study

Michael Ramsammy*, Matt King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Previous research has shown that /l/ in Spanish displays patterns of articulatory variability that are determined by a complex interaction of phonetic, phonological and dialectal factors. In this study, we report the results of an experiment using Ultrasound Tongue Imaging (UTI) that tests /l/-articulations in a dialectal cross-section of Spanish speakers. We show that lengthening of /l/ in phrase-edge contexts is accompanied by articulatory distinctions (e.g. root/dorsum retraction) for some speakers, whereas others produce lengthened realisations of /l/ in these contexts without observable differences in tongue position. We also find acoustic evidence for reduction in utterance-medial intervocalic and preconsonantal environments (duration, intensity, F1 frequency measures are discussed). However, articulatory correlates of reduction are not consistently observed across speakers in these contexts. As well as relating the results to prosodically-driven strengthening and reduction patterns, our findings are of relevance to debates about resyllabification in Spanish. Specifically, we argue that our results cannot be straightforwardly accommodated under phonological analysis assuming that word-final consonants regularly resyllabify across word boundaries prevocalically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-307
Issue number3-4
Early online date23 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Spanish laterals
  • ultrasound
  • articulation
  • strengthening
  • reduction


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