Sunday, October 23, 2016

Phonetic Merger in Spanish

The Spanish y of yo (I) and ll of lleno (full) have merged in most dialects. The two are now pronounced as a palatal fricative or approximant by most speakers. For those who maintain a distinction, the ll is a palatal lateral.

In most of Argentina and Uruguay, the sound is pronounced as a voiced alveopatal fricative. This sound is present in the words leisure, pleasure and treasure. Among younger speakers of Buenos Aires, this sound is often realized as a voiceless alveopalatal fricative as in fish, pressure and sugar.

A few parts of the Spanish-speaking world maintain the distinction between the y of yo and ll of lleno. The distinction remains in parts of Argentina, Ecuador and Peru, in most of Bolivia, and in Paraguay and the Philippines. In Spain the distinction has been lost in most of the country.

The original palatal approximant and palatal lateral of Spanish have merged in the speech of most speakers. This is the result of a process known as delateralization. However, a few areas still maintain the distinction.

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