Postlexical contraction of nonhigh vowels in Spanish

José Ignacio Hualde, Miquel Simonet, Francisco Torreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Although at the lexical level (in the citation form of words) Spanish has only high glides, mid vowels may also become nonsyllabic by a postlexical process of syllable contraction. In this paper we report on an experiment designed to study the contraction of sequences of nonhigh vowels in Castilian Spanish. Traditional phonological descriptions of this Spanish dialect state that in sequences of equal height such as /eo/, /oe/, the first of the two vowels undergoes greater shortening, becoming nonsyllabic. In sequences of different height, such as /ae/, /ea/, on the other hand, the higher of the two vowels becomes nonsyllabic. Our results offer only partial support for these hypotheses. In agreement with other recent studies, we find the realization of these sequences to be very variable. In particular, we discuss two seemingly opposite tendencies present in our data and elsewhere for the elimination of mid glides. One is their deletion: /ea/ {A figure is presented} [{A figure is presented}a] {A figure is presented} [a]. The other one is their raising to high glides: /ea/ {A figure is presented} [{A figure is presented}a] {A figure is presented} [ja].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1906-1925
Number of pages20
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Contraction
  • Glides
  • Spanish
  • Syllabification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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