Bay Area Spanish: regional sound change in contact languages



Compression of the vowel space area and reduced vowel dispersion have been observed as features of the California Vowel Shift (CVS, D’Onofrio, Pratt, and Van Hofwegen 2019). The present research provides empirical data to address the gap in the literature regarding the influence of regional sound change on contact languages, namely the influence of CVS on Bay Area Spanish. Analysis of word list tasks given to bilingual speakers of Bay Area Spanish and monolingual speakers of Mexican Spanish reveals a more compressed vowel space in Bay Area Spanish and patterns that mirror changes in progress in California English. These results suggest that regional sound changes can influence production within contact languages and may provide evidence for perceptual category assimilation among Spanish-English bilinguals in the Bay Area. These results additionally broaden the scope of regional sound change studies by removing the historically Anglo-centric focus and expanding the consideration of what may constitute a regional feature.


U.S. Spanish, regional sound change, language contact, vowel space, California Vowel Shift


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