Yeísmo in Central Argentina: A sociophonetic study of the diverse palatal variation in the city of Córdoba



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The focus of this dissertation is to explore the state of yeísmo in the city of Córdoba. The linguistic phenomenon of yeísmo has produced variants of /ʝ/ that have followed different paths throughout the Spanish speaking world. In Argentine Spanish, the bulk of the research has focused on the trajectory of the voiced palatal fricative /ʝ/ through a process of strengthening into the voiced postalveolar fricative [ʒ] followed by devoicing into the voiceless postalveolar [ʃ] in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. This shift has attracted the attention of multiple researchers who have concentrated their sociolinguistic research on the evolution and completion of the phenomenon of devoicing in Buenos Aires or on comparing the extent of devoicing in the capital to that of other provinces and assessing to what extent the phenomenon is spreading outside of Buenos Aires. Studies concentrating specifically on describing the characteristics of yeísmo in other regions of the country are notably lacking. The present study investigates the wide variation found in the articulation of /ʝ/ for orthographic and in Córdoba, and the social and linguistic factors that govern these realizations. Sixty-five residents of Córdoba balanced by age, gender, and socioeconomic hierarchy participated in the study consisting of recorded Sociolinguistic Interviews and oral readings of a paragraph and a list of minimal pairs containing the targeted features, as well as a picture naming task. Segmental and acoustic analyses of the tokens were performed with Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2018). Results indicate that alternation between [ʒ] and [dʒ] seems to have reached a stable status across social classes and ages. The production of [ʝ] is favored by the less affluent, less educated members of the community living in low income neighborhoods, as well as by men. Additionally, the analyses revealed a continuum of sonorization with early signs of devoicing among the women, and especially women in more affluent neighborhoods. The contribution of this study is fourfold as it provides evidence that suggests that: i) there exists sociolinguistic variation in yeísmo in the interior of Argentina that differs from that in Buenos Aires; (ii) other regions in Argentina produce variants other than only [ʃ] and [ʒ]; (iii) what is a prestige feature in some regions may be a stigmatized feature in others; and (iv) the phenomenon of yeísmo is a dynamic force that correlates with social and linguistic factors and continues to evolve and spread in the territory of Argentina, but possibly in patterns that differ from that of Buenos Aires yeísmo, due in part to a strong sense of local identity.



Yeísmo, Variation and Change, Sociolinguistics, Sociophonetics, Palatal Fricatives, Córdoba, Argentina