DOI: 10.1515/shll-2023-2017 ISSN:

A usage-based account of paragogic /e/ in 20th century New Mexican Spanish

Sarah Lease
  • General Medicine


This study tests if New Mexican Spanish speakers’ productions of words that variably display paragogic /e/ (rincón ∼ rincon

‘corner’) are predictable from their lexical frequency, utterance position, and the frequency with which these words occur in an utterance position that conditions paragoge. In the study, the variable that measures the frequency with which words occur in the conditioning context is referred to as the FCC. The analysis of 77 word types and 2,235 tokens produced by 24 speakers demonstrates that the likelihood that a speaker produces paragogic /e/ increases when words are produced at the end of an utterance. The study also finds novel evidence for the mediating effect of lexical frequency on the effect of the FCC variable: the influence of the frequency with which words are produced in utterance-final position on the likelihood of paragogic /e/ is strengthened as lexical frequency decreases. Together with research on reductive phonological processes (e.g., Forrest, John. 2017. The dynamic interaction between lexical and contextual frequency: A case study of (ING). Language Variation and Change 29(2). 129–156), it seems that the effect of the FCC variable is amplified by lexical frequencies that already harbor the phonological process. These novel findings invite scholars to reconsider the assumption that such effects require many exemplars to shape lexical representation and speech production.

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