/ly/ vs. /y/

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Jul 17 19:41:42 UTC 2001

At 09:22 AM 7/17/01 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated 7/16/01 12:45:54 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>Jim Landau writes:
>In Spain the Castilian dialect (that is the speech of the area around Madrid)
>is Standard Spanish.  Castilian pronounces "ll" as /ly/.  In most of the New
>World "ll" is pronounced /y/ with no /l/ sound.  Why the difference?
>Spanish trade with and emigration to the New World was mostly from the area
>around Cadiz in southern Spain.  Now Cadiz, then only a few generations
>removed from Moorish rule, is not part of Castile but rather of the region
>called "Andalucia" (named after those ubiquitous Vandals).  Andalucian speech
>differs from standard Castilian.  I don't know the details, but it is quite
>possible that pronouncing "ll" as /y/ was an Andalucian practice, and hence
>/y/ rather than /ly/ spread thorughout most of the Spanish-speaking New World.
>Why then would the Andes region use the /ly/ of Castilian?  Quechua influence
>is a possiblity, but another possibility is that for some reason the Andes
>region attracted more Castilian speakers than Andalucian speakers.
>Does anybody have detailed data to nail down this question?
>       - Jim Landau
>         Systems Engineer
>         FAA Technical Center (ACT-350/BCI)
>         Atlantic City Airport NJ 08221 USA

As it happens, a graduate student of mine last year (from Peru) did her
M.A. thesis on the change from /ly/ to /y/ in her home area of Arequipa, in
the south of Peru.  Her sources support the Quechuan influence as
reinforcing the Castilian /ly/ in that area, but she adds sociolinguistic
data to the historical.  The /y/ common in Lima and other major cities of
Latin America has been spreading from these prestige centers to the small
towns and rural areas, and especially in younger people of the middle and
upper classes.  In contrast, her older informants, esp. in the upper
(educated) classes, have kept the "prestigious" /ly/ drilled into them by
their teachers.  She tested 24 people in four contextual styles; upper
class males aged 20-40, in particular, were almost 100% /y/ in all styles;
middle and upper class teenagers of both sexes followed
closely.  Mariella's conclusion was that younger people have been tuning in
to the newly prestigious urban /y/ in the last 40 years or so, and that
class (= education) exposes them to this change even more.  Whether
bilingual Andean Indians coming into Arequipa are also adopting /y/ is not
yet clear; if and when they do, the change will become less class-based and
even more regionally diffuse.  BTW, European Spanish is also becoming more
/y/-pronouncing, according to her sources.

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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