Edited by Whitney Chappell
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 21] 2019
► pp. 212–235
Chapter 7. The social perception of intervocalic /k/ voicing in Chilean Spanish
In this study, we investigate what social meaning is attributed to a nascent change in progress in Chilean Spanish, examining whether intervocalic voicing of the phonologically voiceless stop /k/ affects listener judgments along several perceptual scales. Eight brief excerpts of spontaneous speech were digitally manipulated to vary only in voicing in tokens of /k/, and thirty listeners responded via an online experiment. We find that listeners are not sensitive to voicing along three of the measured scales and are not sensitive to voicing at all in female speech. We also determined that listeners are only sensitive to intervocalic voicing when assigning values of Chilean identity to male speakers, and that this effect is mitigated by headphone use. Some of listeners’ insensitivity matches previous production data in this dialect, while we expected some sensitivity along other measures but found none. We posit that this mismatch is due to the salience of the variable: because listeners may be unfamiliar with intervocalic voicing of /k/, they have not yet indexed voicing of intervocalic /k/ with particular speaker features, aligning with Campbell-Kibler (2009).