“Investigating lenition patterns in south-central Peninsular Spanish /spstsk/ clusters,” written by Assistant professor of Spanish linguistics Nicholas Henriksen and undergraduate alumnus Sarah Harper (BA ’14), was published in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Linguistics, Sarah went on to the University of Southern California where she is now working towards her PhD in Linguistics.

The collaboration between Nicholas and Sarah began three years ago through an independent study in Winter 2013. After that study was completed, the two decided to continue working together in pursuit of publication in a phonetics journal. The data collection and analysis in this study took three years to complete. Please find the citation and abstract below.

Henriksen, Nicholas & Sarah Harper. (2016). Investigating lenition patterns in south-central Peninsular Spanish /sp st sk/ clusters. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 46(3), 287-310.

In this study we report on an instrumental analysis of /spstsk/ clusters in south-central Peninsular Spanish, documenting a three-way system of /s/ realization: speakers tend to produce alveolar fricatives in /st/ clusters, velar fricatives in /sk/ clusters, and glottal fricatives or deletions in /sp/ clusters. An analysis based on the discrete classification of /s/ variants shows that a combination of linguistic factors (following consonant and stress) influences /s/ realization. An analysis based on the phonetic coding of /s/ variants (using measures of fricative duration, relative voicing, and center of gravity) reveals the extent to which velar fricatives display an intermediate status along the phonetic continuum of /s/ lenition variations. Taken together, these analyses shed light on the nature of coda /s/ in Spanish and on the extent to which the attested allophony constitutes a lenition process.