The current study examines the realization of adjacent vowels across word boundaries in Arabic-Spanish bilinguals and Spanish monolinguals in Puerto Rico, focusing specifically on the rate of glottal stop epenthesis in this context (e.g., hombre africano
to [ˈom.bre.ʔa.fri.ˈka.no]). It was hypothesized that Arabic-Spanish bilinguals would show a higher rate of glottal stop epenthesis than Spanish monolinguals because of transfer from Arabic. In addition, we investigated the possible effects of stress, vowel height, language dominance and bilingual type on the rate of glottal stop epenthesis. Results from a reading task with 8 participants showed no significant difference in glottalization between bilinguals and monolinguals. For monolinguals, glottalization was significantly more likely when the first vowel was low or stressed; significant interactions between vowel height and stress were found for the bilingual group. Language dominance was a significant factor, with Arabic-dominant bilinguals glottalizing more than the Spanish-dominant bilinguals. In addition, early sequential bilinguals favored glottalization slightly more than simultaneous bilinguals, without reaching significance. Our data suggests some effects of syllable structure transfer from Arabic, particularly in Arabic-dominant participants. To our knowledge, our study is the first exploration of Arabic and Spanish in contact in Puerto Rico, and the first to acoustically examine the speech of Arabic-Spanish bilinguals.
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