Potowski in Sociorap Today

Sociorap is today in the Greeberg Room at 3:45. Come by to hear Kim Potowski (U of Illinois at Chicago) give a talk entitled ‘Spanish dialect contact in Chicago: Phonetic realizations by Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and “MexiRicans”’.

The talk will be followed by the Social in the Department lounge.

Studies of Spanish dialect contact in the U.S. are becoming increasingly important as the origins of its Spanish-speaking populations become more diverse. In addition to “traditional” dialect contact, in which monodialectal members of different groups come into contact with each other in a number of social spheres, an increasingly common situation is that of intrafamilial dialect contact (Potowski 2011) experienced by mixed ethnicity Latinos – that is, individuals raised by parents who each speak a different dialect of Spanish. For example, Potowski (2008) found that among 18 “MexiRicans” in Chicago, 75% of them were informally rated as sounding more like their mother’s dialect group than their father’s.

This presentation shares findings of PRAAT-supported analyses of the realizations of two phonetic variables: Over 5,000 tokens of coda /s/ (often weakened among PR) and nearly 500 tokens of trilled /r/ (often velarized among PR). Five-minute samples were analyzed from sociolinguistic interviews with18 Mexicans (MX) and 20 Puerto Ricans (PR) of three different sociolinguistic generations (G1, G2, and G3) in Chicago, comparing those who spoke with interviewers of the same ethnicity vs. the other ethnicity. We also analyzed a sample of 28 MexiRicans (MXPR), half of whom had a MX mother and half a PR mother.

As hypothesized based on the numerical superiority of MX in Chicago, MX did not exhibit any PR traits; only PR used PR variants. There were no differenes among PR at the group level for /s/ weakening; that is, PR did not realize coda /s/ more frequently when speaking with MX vs. with PR. However, they did velarize trilled /r/ more frequently when speaking with PR than with MX, lending support to the notion that velarized trilled /r/ is a stigmatized variant that PR prefer to use only with other PR rather than with MX. Also at the group level, MXPR with a PR mother produced more PR features than did those with a MX mother, lending support to the findings of Potowski (2008). Despite strong insistence that they are “both” Mexican and Puerto Rican, many MXPR mark themselves as one or the other – or neither – the moment they speak Spanish. Implications for these findings and areas for future research will be explored.