Investigating variability of Spanish alveolar taps

The first paper of my dissertation investigates variability in the production of intervocalic alveolar taps in the Spanish of Madrid using the Nijmegen Corpus of Casual Spanish. Automated methods were used on the full data-set of almost 30,000 taps, followed by manual analysis and coding of a random 10% of the data. The first goal of this study is a description of the acoustic properties of the tap in a large sample of spontaneous Spanish. Preliminary results show that fully-articulated taps are in the minority and that close to 50% of taps manually examined were highly-reduced or deleted.

The second goal of this study is to understand how predictability at the lexical level impacts the variation in tap production. Many different predictors have been used in other languages to investigate this question, and this research aims to investigate whether a few of these factors impact the production of this sound in Spanish. It is important to test this research question in as many languages as possible so we can tease apart language-specific trends from general truths about speech production.