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Friday, October 11 • 9:20am - 9:45am
Mendes & Walker: The fate of unstressed vowels in Brazilian Portuguese

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The fate of unstressed vowels in Brazilian Portuguese

This paper examines social and linguistic factors conditioning variable realization of unstressed word-final vowels (as voiced, devoiced or deleted) in São Paulo Portuguese. A total of 5,413 tokens from 46 sociolinguistic interviews were coded nominally and continuously (proportion of pulses). Results from mixed-effects logistic and linear regression suggest stylistic and phonetic conditioning of the variation: more casual styles (conversation) favor devoicing and deletion over more formal styles (word list). High vowels and surrounding voiceless segments favor devoicing. Devoicing and deletion appear to be divided in social meaning, with devoicing associated with women and deletion with men. The lack of significance for age argues against the interpretation that these forms are on the rise, and the lack of a relationship between the two variants leaves a question about whether a major change is taking place in the phonology of Brazilian Portuguese.


Ronald Beline Mendes

University of São Paulo

James Walker

La Trobe University

Friday October 11, 2019 9:20am - 9:45am PDT
EMU Crater Lake S
  T: Constraints
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Volya Kapatsinski