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Phonetic evidence on phonology–morphosyntax interactions: Sibilant voicing in Quito Spanish1


This paper presents new experimental data on Quito Spanish /s/-voicing, which has attracted considerable interest from theoretical phonologists owing to the overapplication of voicing to word-final pre-vocalic /s/. Bermúdez-Otero (2011) singles out Quito /s/-voicing as an important test case for discriminating between two competing theories of phonology–morphosyntax interactions: Output–output correspondence and cyclicity. Overapplication in /s/-voicing cannot be captured using correspondence relationship to a base form, which challenges Output–output correspondence as a theory of opacity. However, the argument only holds insofar as word-final pre-vocalic /s/-voicing is considered phonological, as Output–output correspondence can account for /s/-voicing assuming that it only applies in the phonetics (Colina 2009). We discuss the diverging empirical predictions concerning categoricity and gradience in the surface realisation of voicing processes. We further test these predictions based on acoustic data from seven speakers of Quito Spanish. Evidence from speech rate manipulations shows that some speakers produce more voicing during frication at normal speech rate, compared to fast, maintaining a stable voicing ratio across different speech rates. We argue that for these speakers, /s/-voicing is optional but categorical, and so it ought to be analysed as phonological. This result presents a challenge to the Output–output correspondence approach, but can be accommodated within cyclicity.

Corresponding author
Authors’ addresses: (Strycharczuk) School of Languages, Linguistics and Culture, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL,
(Van 't Veer)Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, Leiden University, Postbus 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, The
(Bruil)Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, Leiden University, Postbus 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, The
(Linke)Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, Leiden University, Postbus 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands & The Meertens Institute, PO Box 94264, 1090 GG Amsterdam, The
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We would like to thank the speakers for their participation in the experiment. We are also grateful to Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero, Yuni Kim, Koen Sebregts and three anonymous Journal of Linguistics referees for their comments and suggestions. The research reported on in this article has been made possible thanks to a doctoral grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC, to the first author, a grant from the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), project number 360-75-000, to the second and forth author, and a grant from the NWO, project number 360-70-320, to the third author.

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