University of Illinois at Chicago
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Phonological Variation in Cibaeño Spanish: Social Networks as Potential Predictors of Semi-Vocalization

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posted on 2014-10-28, 00:00 authored by Junice A. Acosta-Martinez
In spite of the increasing number of studies that deal with variation in Spanish dialects, Variationist Sociolinguistics has yet to propose a model that effectively accounts for variation combining the available research at different levels of analysis. This study seeks to provide a comprehensive account of linguistic phenomena that associates the individual analysis of language variation to a larger social theory increasing explanatory power by bridging both levels within the same approach. The study examines the phonological process of semi-vocalization in which liquid segments (i.e. /l, ɾ/) become a palatal glide [j] in coda position; it looks at how several intra (e.g. phonological context, grammatical category) and extra (e.g. age, gender) linguistic factors impact such process, and thus, variation patterns of language use among speakers from rural communities of the Dominican Republic. The study incorporates Social Network Theory to explain variation at the individual level, looking at the structure (i.e. density) and content (i.e. multiplexity) of speakers’ networks to determine whether they could predict speakers’ linguistic behavior. Research suggest that speakers integrated into dense and multiplex networks tend to use more vernacular forms (e.g. semi-vocalization) than speakers integrated into less dense and uniplex networks. Moreover, it examines the type of ties an individual has with his/her local group; given that individuals with close-knit ties to the local group are found to be more likely to use vernacular forms than those with loose-knit ties (Milroy, 1980), the examination of such ties could predict the linguistic behavior of speakers concerning semi-vocalization. The results reveal that phonological context, position within the word and stress, as well as speakers’ level of education, income and age have an effect on speakers’ linguistic choices. In regards to social networks, results show that an analysis considering their structure and content can only partially explain individual linguistic behavior which suggests that a multidisciplinary approach may be more appropriate to provide a comprehensive account of phonological variation.



Núñez-Cedeño, RafaelCameron, Richard


Hispanic and Italian Studies

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Committee Member

Cameron, Richard Potowski, Kimberly Alba, Orlando Guitart, Jorge

Submitted date



  • en

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