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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Phonological representation of Spanish vibrants Valerga, Vanessa N.


Spanish has two rhotics: a tap [r] and a trill [r]. Their distribution is interesting because they are found to be in contrast, in complementary distribution and in free variation depending on their position within the syllable and on the adjacent segments. I intend here to explore how to account for the observed distributions and to propose an appropriate phonological representation for these sounds. It will be claimed that the difference between a tap and a trill is prosodic in nature. I also explore the possibility of relating the facts that describe the distribution of r-sounds with those of the well-studied cases of stop/fricative alternations in the same language and whether a unified account of both phenomena is possible. In order to achieve this, I examine data from syllable structure, stress assignment, dialectal variation and historical development. The analysis put forth here is constructed within the theoretical frameworks of Moraic Theory (Hyman 1985, Hayes 1989), the Nuclear Moraic Model (Shaw 1992), Autosegmental Phonology (Goldsmith 1976) and Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993).

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