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Title:On the Phonetic Reality of Spanish /r/ in Complex Onsets
Authors:Travis G. Bradley, Benjamin Schmeiser
Comment:This paper is a slightly revised version of the one presented at the 6th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, held at the University of Iowa, October 18-20, 2002.
Abstract:A common trend among contemporary generative studies of Spanish rhotics is that of glossing over what are deemed to be irrelevant, low-level details of phonetic implementation. Consequently, much of the variation underlying the phonetic reality of these segments is ignored. Such a move is taken, for instance, by Harris (1983:62), who reduces the 'astonishing variety of r-quality phones … to just two, [r] and [rr], which will be understood to jointly exhaust the rich phonetic variety [...] I will say little more about phonetic detail…' Recent investigations have begun to redress the lack of attention given to phonetic detail (e.g., Colantoni 2001, Hammond 1999, 2000, to appear-a,b, and Willis and Pedrosa 1998). The present work contributes to this line of research by investigating the phonetic reality of Spanish /r/ in complex onsets.

This paper is organized as follows. In Section 2, we identify some prosodic, segmental, and stylistic influences on the realization of /Cr/ clusters. In Section 3, we develop a formal analysis, couched within a phonetically-based version of Optimality Theory (OT; Prince and Smolensky 1993, McCarthy and Prince 1995), in which the articulatory drive to coarticulate adjacent consonantal gestures in the output conflicts with the perceptual requirement that input clusters be recoverable. Section 4 shows how the analysis captures the attested influences on /Cr/ realization. In Section 5, we discuss the role of phonetic detail in phonological analysis and suggest some areas for further empirical investigation. Section 6 concludes.
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Phonology, Phonetics
Article:Version 1