English, Linguistics Emphasis and Spanish


Phonetics and Phonology | Spanish Linguistics


Rioplatense Spanish (RPS; Argentina and Uruguay) is known for its distinctive pronunciation features. In Standard American Spanish, the sound associated with the letters ‘y’ or ‘ll’ is [j] (as in ‘yellow’), but in RPS the sound is [ʒ] (as in ‘measure’) or, more recently, [ʃ] (as in ‘shoe’). Previous studies found this sound change (from [ʒ] to [ʃ]) is almost complete in speakers from Uruguay and Argentina, but the change in Uruguay is more recent. In this study, RPS speakers from both countries were presented with audio recordings of words containing all possible variants of the sounds [j], [ʒ], and [ʃ]. After listening to the recordings, participants determined the country of origin of the speaker. We expected Argentine participants to attribute [ʃ] to Argentine Spanish, and [ʒ] to Uruguayan Spanish. Uruguayan participants were expected to attribute both [ʃ] and [ʒ] to either Argentinian or Uruguayan Spanish, unable to differentiate between the two sounds. Results shows that speakers are aware of their own dialect’s shift towards [ʃ]; however, they also attribute the [ʒ] sound to speakers from across the river, unaware that both pronunciations have shifted.

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