Edited by Whitney Chappell
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 21] 2019
► pp. 240–264
Chapter 8. The sociophonetic perception of heritage Spanish speakers in the United States
Reactions to labiodentalized <v> in the speech of late immigrant and U.S.-born voices
This study uses a prominent phonetic variable in U.S. Spanish (orthographic <v> as bilabial or labiodental) to investigate heritage Spanish speakers’ social perceptions. Based on the results of a matched-guise test in which 75 U.S.-born heritage speakers evaluated voices with a labiodental and bilabial guise, heritage speakers perceive [v] positively in the voices of women as a marker of status, confident Hispanic identities, and older age, but negatively in the voices of men. The results show that heritage speakers use phonetic variants to discern social information about others, and their judgments largely align with monolingual Mexican Spanish speakers. I conclude that heritage speakers’ sociophonetic perception in their home language attests to a rich inner world often overlooked by prescriptive forces.