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Vowels vs. consonants as distinguishing dialects in Spanish vs. English

 

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Old September 12, 2014, 01:00 AM
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Vowels vs. consonants as distinguishing dialects in Spanish vs. English

Hi -- I'm brand new here. I found the forum while trying to answer one of many questions I've had about differences between English and Spanish, the two languages I speak comfortably. Seems to me that in English most of the differences between dialects (e.g., Southern US, downeast, Australian, the various Great Britain accents) revolve more around vowels than consonants. Yes, the Scots are unusual in rolling their rrrrs. And in "Ne Hampsha", the "w" "r" bite the dust. But IMO mose often it's the vowels that bear most of the responsibility for defining a dialect.

Not true in Spanish, I think. E.g., Caribbean (Andalucian) spanish hates the "s" and "d" and drop them at every chance. And Boricuas convert the "r" final to an "l" -- "Me gusta el mal", por ejemplo. But the vowels seem to me stay more or less constant across dialects.

So - do you folks out there, many of whom I realize have been part of this community for years, agree with my analysis? Disagree? Has it been discussed already? If so some links would be much appreciated.

And if my analysis seems more or less correct, what if anything does it tell us about Spanish vs. English? Why, "en relacion al desarrollo de los dos idiomas" might we have contrasts in this trend of modifying vowels vs consonants?

It's "medianoche" here so I won't see any replies for quite a while.

"Saludos" and thanks in advance for any insights you folks might bring me,

Phil
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  #2  
Old September 12, 2014, 07:31 AM
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I agree that Spanish accents are ruled by consonants.

I'm not so sure I agree completely about what you say about English. R's vary in American English accents almost as much as vowels do. A ninety mile trip from Brooklyn to Philadelphia is proof of that.

That R for L substitution you hear among Puerto Ricans is more common among some Dominicans (Bibo en Nueba Yol) The R pronounced J or the way R's are pronounce in French is even more specific to Puerto Rico.
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Old September 12, 2014, 08:41 AM
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I would agree that vowels are more prominent in distinguishing regional accents in English than in Spanish, and that Spanish vowels* are fairly consistent accross regional varieties compared to English.

However, like poli, I think that both vowels and consonants affect how we perceive regional differences in pronunciation in English, especially variations in pronouncing /r/ at the end of syllables (typically described as rhotic or non-rhotic varieties) and their effect on the preceding vowel. A few other consonants vary significantly in some regional varieties, too.

Last edited by wrholt; September 12, 2014 at 10:01 PM. Reason: *word correction
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Old September 12, 2014, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poli View Post
That R for L substitution you hear among Puerto Ricans is more common among some Dominicans (Bibo en Nueba Yol)
Cuelpo

Quote:
Originally Posted by poli View Post
The R pronounced J or the way R's are pronounce in French is even more specific to Puerto Rico.
Or German?
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Old September 15, 2014, 02:21 AM
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Consonants vs. vowels

Thanks for the replies. Sure, some English dialects vary in part with respect to consonants. The "r" is perhaps the most obvious example but many regional forms drop consonants (E.g. Ne Hanmpshah). And if you've ever listened to a serious Scottish accent, then consonants are involved every bit as much as vowels.

But it sounds like we agree that there's a pattern/trend/tendency.

If so then why? Is it true of dialects in other Romance languages? Is it less true of the Slavic languages? Does this tendency tell us anything about tthe evolution of the various language groups?

Maybe this forum isn't the best place to go looking for this sort of info, Suggestions on where else to look would be appreciated. OTOH, I expect some folks on this forum might be able to shed light on the origins and implications of this trend/tendency. I'd be very interested to hear from any of you.

Best,
Phil - s
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Old September 15, 2014, 06:03 PM
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Phil
It is an interesting observation that accents in English are more ruled by vowels than consonants (with exceptions usually around the letter R), and accents are more ruled by consonants in Spanish. I cannot figure out why.

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yes, or German

also esparda instead of espalda.
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