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Final nasal variation in Merida, Yucatan

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This article investigates the linguistic and social constraints on final nasal variation in Yucatan Spanish (YS), based on data collected in Merida, Yucatan. Absolute final nasals in YS may surface variably as: [n], [], ø or [m] (e.g. pan → [pám], 'bread'). The results reveal a distribution of final nasal realization unique to YS, as well as detail its patterning throughout the community. Unlike some previous findings, the data under investigation here demonstrate [n] to be the preferred nasal variant, accounting for 60% of tokens. Regional variant [m] accounts for 25%, while [] and ø were infrequent variants, arising 8% and 5% of the time, respectively. Standard [n] occurs mostly among older speakers and Spanish monolinguals. Bilabial [m], however, is a recent innovation, led by younger speakers, women, and Mayan-Spanish bilinguals. The realization [m] may serve as a marker of regional identity for some speakers. For others, though, this variant is becoming a linguistic stereotype, as suggested by qualitative data from speaker comments and instances of [m] in the popular culture, including on internet websites.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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