Prosodic timing and language contact: Spanish and Yagua in Amazonian Peru
2017, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, Issue 2, Pg. 225–257, Volume 10,
This study examines measures of prosodic timing (i. e., segment-to-segment durational variability) in Yagua and Spanish spoken in Amazonian Peru. We performed an acoustic analysis of consonantal and vocalic durations from sociolinguistic interviews in Spanish (for Yagua-Spanish bilinguals and Spanish monolinguals) and from oral narratives in Yagua (for Yagua-Spanish bilinguals). Subsequently, we applied variability metrics to the speech of each group to compare their respective timing values. Our results show that, first, Yagua displays more segment-to-segment durational variability than monolingual Spanish. Second, L1-Yagua/L2-Spanish speakers show primarily Yagua-like timing values in Spanish, whereas Yagua-Spanish simultaneous bilinguals show primarily Spanish-like values in Spanish. These results suggest that ethnic Yagua communities are converging toward Spanish-like patterns of prosodic timing. This research contributes to the Spanish contact and prosodic timing literature by offering bilingual and monolingual data from one of the world’s most complex and typologically diverse geolinguistic areas.