Transcription of Spanish and Spanish-Influenced English

By Goldstein, Brian | Communication Disorders Quarterly, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

Transcription of Spanish and Spanish-Influenced English


Goldstein, Brian, Communication Disorders Quarterly


In the United States alone, almost 9% of the population--22 million individuals--speaks Spanish (Grimes, 1996). The population of Hispanics/Latinos is predicted to increase to 51 million individuals by the year 2025 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). Many of these individuals will be native Spanish speakers who will be acquiring English. More than likely, their production of the English phonological system will be influenced by their pronunciation of Spanish (and vice versa in some cases). This article provides information on the transcription of Spanish, common dialects of Spanish, Spanish-influenced English, and English-influenced Spanish.

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Spanish is the third most commonly spoken language in the world, with approximately 266 million speakers (Grimes, 1996). In the United States alone, there are approximately 22 million Spanish speakers (almost 9% of the population), more than 3 million of whom are younger than age 5 (Grimes, 1996). It is predicted that by the year 2025, more than 51 million individuals of Hispanic/Latino descent will reside in the United States (an increase to 15.7% of the U.S. population), 5 million of whom will be younger than age 5 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). It is clear that the number of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who speak a language other than English is not sufficient to serve Spanish speakers in the United States. Petrosino, Lieberman, McNeil, and Shinn (1999) reported that the number of students graduating from master's and doctoral communication sciences and disorders programs in the United States who speak a language other than English is quite small. In the 1997-1998 academic year, only 915 of 10,750 graduates spoke a language other than English. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA, 1999) noted that at the end of 1998, 2.3% of its 97,000 members were Hispanic/Latino, certainly not all of whom speak Spanish. Thus, the majority of SLPs serving Spanish speakers will not likely be Spanish speakers themselves, and may not be familiar with the Spanish phonological system, the influence of Spanish on English (i.e., Spanish-influenced English), or the influence of English on Spanish (i.e., English-influenced Spanish). This article provides information on the transcription of Spanish, common dialects of Spanish, Spanish-influenced English, and English-influenced Spanish. Using appropriate transcription notation will aid SLPs in differentiating phonological variation from phonological disorder in individuals who speak Spanish, Spanish-influenced English, and English-influenced Spanish.

SPANISH PHONOLOGY

To understand Spanish-influenced English and English-influenced Spanish, it is necessary to begin by discussing Spanish phonology. (For more detailed information on Spanish phonology, see Goldstein, 2000.) The phonemic inventories for Spanish and English are listed in Table 1. The Spanish phonology described here is not necessarily the version that is taught in the U.S. school system; thus, there may be differences between that variety and the version of Spanish phonology represented here. It should be noted that the English phonemic system is not detailed here on the assumption that readers will be familiar with it. In addition, allophonic and dialectal variations of Spanish are described in subsequent tables.

There are 18 consonant phonemes typically described for Spanish (Cotton & Sharp, 1988). These phonemes include the voiceless unaspirated stops, /p/, /t/, and /k/; the voiced stops, /b/, /d/, and /g/; the voiceless fricatives, /f/, /s/, and /x/ (voiceless velar); the affricate, /tf/; the glides, /w/ and /j/; the lateral, /l/; the alveolar flap /r/; the alveolar trill /r/; and the nasals, /m/,/n/, and /[??]/ (voiced palatal). The three voiced stops /b, d, g/ are in complementary distribution (i.e., different allophones of the same phoneme that cannot occur in the same linguistic environment) with the spirants [[beta]] (voiced bilabial), [[eth]], and [[? …

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