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Boletín de filología

versión On-line ISSN 0718-9303


SADOWSKY, Scott. Spanish with (Different) Araucanian Sounds: The influence of Mapudungun on the Chilean Spanish vowel system. Boletín de Filología [online]. 2020, vol.55, n.2, pp.33-75. ISSN 0718-9303.

This paper investigates the possible influence of Mapudungun, Chile’s most widely-spoken indigenous language, on Chilean Spanish, using a two-pronged approach. First, we reexamine German linguist Rudolf Lenz’s late nineteenth-century hypothesis that a series of phonetic and phonological features of Chilean Spanish originated in Mapudungun. We analyze each of the 10 features that Lenz proposed to be of Mapuche origin, critically review his arguments and those of his main detractor, Spanish philologist Amado Alonso, and then examine these proposals in light of contemporary linguistic, genetic, demographic and other knowledge. We conclude that three of the features Lenz attributed to Mapudungun either cannot have originated in this language or are highly unlikely to have done so, while three others very likely were transferred from Mapudungun to Chilean Spanish, and that the remaining four must be studied more extensively before conclusions are drawn. Second, we present the results of a study which examines Chilean Spanish vowels and compares them with those of Mapudungun and of other varieties of Spanish. The vowels, which Lenz did not consider in his hypotheses, are analyzed in terms of both their location (or quality) and the size of the systems they constitute in acoustic space. The results show that the vowels of both Chilean Spanish and Mapudungun are strongly mid-centralized and use little acoustic space, while those of other Spanish varieties are almost without exception peripheral and occupy most of the available acoustic space. We conclude that the Chilean Spanish vowel system was likely reorganized under the influence of Mapudungun.

Palabras clave : Vowels; Language contact; Chilean Spanish; Mapudungun; Phonetics; Phonology; Rudolf Lenz.

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