Converging Paths of Variation: Bilingual Rhotics and Language Change in the Archipelago of San Andres, Colombia



This study examines the acoustic realization of phonemic taps and trills across generations of Creole-Spanish bilinguals in the Archipelago of San Andres, Colombia. Formant frequencies in the form of F2 and F3 were compared in the realization of 1,450 rhotics presenting no lingual closure produced in the bilingual Spanish speech of three generations of Creole-Spanish speakers. Alongside, F2 and F3 values were extracted from rhotic segments produced in the monolingual varieties coexisting in the Archipelago, Islander Creole (n=328) and Colombian Continental Spanish (n=150). Results show that F3 frequencies and the distance between F3-F2 in senior bilinguals increasingly resemble the values in Islander Creole approximants, whereas younger generations are more closely associated to Continental Spanish. Supporting this trend is the fact that second generation speakers stand at an intermediate position between generations. These findings suggest a change in progress where approximants in younger generations are converging in the direction of Colombian Spanish, while formant frequencies in seniors are more associated with Islander Creole.


zero-occlusion rhotics, sound variation, Islander Creole, Raizal Spanish, language convergence


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