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these groups are in words emphatically pronounced. This syllabic ! is usually denti-alveolar as in Fig. 3, and is heard only sporadically. 5. Short vibrant r. This short syllabic consonant is a voiced, multiplevibrant fricative, similar in its consonantal articulation to the fricative r often heard in careless and familiar Spanish pronunciation instead of the regular multiple-vibrant r. In the New Mexican syllabic r, the tip of the tongue is pressed against the lower surface of the alveolar region

Fig. 3.

Fig. 4.

in a series of very rapid contacts or vibrations, allowing the breath to pass through a narrow passage and producing a continuous sound. See Fig. 4. Often the contacts or vibrations are so rapid and the releases so gentle that there is a uniform contact, producing a sound somewhat like the French j in jour when loosely and weakly articulated. The tongue position, however, does not approach that of the French sound. When before a vowel becomes rr. See nn in 2.

Navarro Tomás, Manual de Pronunciación Española, §116.

All the developments discussed are not general in New Mexican Spanish. All our examples are from notes that represent cases of actual current pronunciation, but this does not mean that the normal Spanish or almost normal pronunciation with no syllabic consonants is not often heard. In New Mexican Spanish, camita is often pronounced kamita, lomila lomita, etc. The problem of class distinction or education does not seem to enter here because most of my examples are taken from individuals of some education who speak and write Spanish well.


1. Syllabic m. Syllabic m may normally develop from the following sources.9

a) From intervocalic m+accented 1:

camita>kamta, lomita>lomta, comites (<comiste) komtes.

As already indicated, the syllabic consonant is here very long and has the accentual stress. The syllabication in the first example is, therefore, ka-m-ta.

b) From the possessive adjective mi when immediately before a bilabial consonant+an unaccented vowel:

mi papá>m papá, mi mamá>m mamá, mi botita m botíta

By assimilation final n+mi in the above position becomes also syllabic m. The vowel preceding the original n remains strongly nasal:

con mi papá>kẽm papá, sin mi papá>sim papá, en mi maleta>ēm maléta.

In these cases the syllabic m and the following consonant are really pronounced with the same lip position, although with two articulations. The syllabic m is articulated with the lips closed, and as the lips are opened the release is the articulation for the following labial consonant b, m, or p.

c) From the indefinite article un when immediately before a bilabial consonant. It is also accented, but not with the intensity of the mi>m, and it is not so long. This development takes place both before accented and unaccented vowels:

un pajarito>m paxaríto, un papel>m papel, un beso m béso, un burro>m búro, un mantel m mantél.

This development seems to take place only when the article un is initial in a phonic group. In the sentence vido un pajarito, therefore, the normal New Mexican pronunciation would be bí-dum-pa-xa-rí-to, and the syllabic consonant would develop only in case of an abnormal pause after vido, bíðo m paxaríto.

It happens that I have no examples of un before f. In New Mexican Spanish f is ordinarily (when it does not become a voiceless aspiration like the jota) a labiodental or weak, labiodental, breathed f, or a bilabiopharyngeal f.10 Before such initial ƒ sounds, un when syllabic would probably be pronounced in New Mexican Spanish as a labiodental, syllabic m with a consonantal articulation similar to the Spanish labiodental m sound of n when before an ƒ," or a loosely articulated syllabic nasal with imperfect bilabial contact.

10 Studies in New Mexican Spanish, Part I, §100. 1 Manual de Pronunciación Española, §90.

d) A double syllabic m is also often heard in New Mexican Spanish as an exclamation or expression of disgust or disapproval. Two syllables are really articulated, two syllabic m sounds, the second receiving the stress, mm.

A most interesting problem for students of language is the dissolution of syllabic m that has developed from mi (case b above) into em, because it is an almost exact parallel to the development of Indo-European syllabic m under certain conditions to Italic em. Examples:

em papá<m papá<mi papá

em mamá< m mamá<mi mamá

kon em papá <kom papá<con mi papá em pakéte<m pakéte<mi paquete

Individuals who pronounce m papá are usually the ones who on occasions pronounce em papá. I am assuming of course that in these cases em is derived from m, and, I believe, with reason, because I do not see the possibility of deriving em directly from mi. There is not the slightest reason for assuming any other influence in this development and I feel certain that em represents the syllabic m that developes from mi. We have here, then, in a modern Latin dialect, a repetition of the old development of Indo-European syllabic m to em in Latin, in such words as *kmtóm>centum, *dekm>decem, etc. The same development took place, of course, in Oscan and Umbrian.12

The above development does not take place when a vowel precedes mi. If syllabic m develops it remains:


a mi papá > â m papá.

The reason why syllabic m develops from such monosyllabic words as un and mi and not from me and no is probably to be found in the fact that mi and un still retain some of the original stress of uno and mío <Latin ūnu(m), měu(m), whereas in me, no, etc., there is no accentual stress at all. In all the above cases the resulting syllabic m develops from m or n+a preceding (in the case of un) or following (all other cases) accented vowel.

2. Syllabic n. Syllabic ǹ may develop from the following sources: a) From intervocalic n+accented í (see m):

cunita>kunta, Anita > aṇta, hermanito > ęrmanto.

The development takes place only in words ending in -íto, -íta. b) From the indefinite article un in practically any position except when before labials (see m, c). When the resulting n falls before a vowel

12 These Latin examples are for the short syllabic m. See K. Brugmann, Abregé de Grammaire Comparée des Langues Indo-Européenes, Paris, 1905, §192, Lindsay, Chapter IV, §81, and Sommer, §37.

the release of the tongue articulates a consonantal n. The ʼn then becomes nn (see Pronunciation, 2):

un dedal>n deðál, un americano>nnamerikáno, en un instante> ennistánte, con un hijo>koníxo, con un tambor>kon tambór (kó̟-ntam-bór).

When an n precedes the un the tendency seems general, while in the other cases the development is sporadic. Cases like ennistánte (e-n-nistán-te) and kon tambor are heard everywhere in New Mexico and Colorado. The first n nasalizes the preceding vowel and is in part assimilated into the resulting syllabic n. The full and general development of syllabic n here, therefore, seems to be reached generally only from n+un in the group vowel+n+un.

c) From the group un- of the other forms of un, namely uno, una, unos, unas, i.e. before a vowel, in any position, but generally only in the case of vowel+n+una, unos, or unas:

con una pala>konna pala, en una carta>ēņna kárta, dan una cena muy mala>dā nna séna mú mála, sin una luz>sinna lús, son unos tontos>so nnos tontos, con unas cosas >konnas kósas, pon una aquí> põnna kí (põ-n-na-kí), una bebida>nna be bíða.

In all cases of b and c where the resulting syllabic ǹ falls immediately before a vowel within a phonic group, the release of the syllabic n is consonantal n, as already indicated. From unas, for example, un in reality develops into syllabic n+consonant n.

d) Sporadically from the accented initial group in+consonant: {ntico (<idéntico13>ntiko, son inticos>so ntikos.

There is also a New Mexican Spanish form éntico, but this is probably from íntico on account of the general tendency in New Mexican Spanish to open a vowel before a nasal group, embésil<imbécil, empedido< impedido, antonses <entonces, ancase <en casa de, etc.,1 and not from ntiko, with en from syllabic

3. Syllabic 1. Syllabic I may develop from the following sources: a) Sporadically from intervocalic +accented {:

pilita>piļta, alita>aļta, bolita>bolta.

All my examples are before t as in the parallel case for n.

4. Syllabic. In the initial groups cl-, gl-, a weak, unaccented, and very short syllabic I sometimes appears in New Mexican Spanish before the consonantal l, especially in emphatic speech:

13 Studies in New Mexican Spanish, Part I, §§36, 180.

14 Ibid., §§24, 32.

claro>klláro, clase>kllás, clima>kļlíma, clueca>kļléka, gloria> gllórja.

In the medial position gll appears also in įngllatera<inglaterra.

Aside from klléka there is also a form kuléka from clueca.15 It is not easy to determine whether the u develops here as an ordinary case of a parasitic vowel, as in Latin poculum <pocolom <pōclum,16 or from syllabic !. The evolution of the forms was probably clueca >kllwéka, or kulwéka>klléka or kuléka. If kuléka actually comes from klléka, the dissolution of 1 into ul is similar to that of Indo-European syllabic ! that is represented by ol, ul, in Latin."

More common than the form ingllatera are the forms ingalaterra, ingalatierra, with al instead of l. The history of this parasitic vowel is also somewhat obscure. The fact that it is a instead of u is of no importance here because the exact phonetic value of the parasitic vowel is determined largely by the vowel that precedes or follows. This is evident in the New Mexican forms ingalaterra, indulugensia, tíguere, Franquilín< inglaterra, indulgencia, tigre, Franklin, etc.18

5. Syllabic Syllabic, which is always short and practically semiexplosive, may result from intervocalic r (Spanish multiple vibrant i) +accented í, and in all cases only when the resulting syllabic consonant falls before the consonant t:

perrito>perto, carrito>karto, burrito>burto.

The above development is not general. All my examples are from the San Luis Valley, Southern Colorado, but New Mexican friends tell me that the development is not unknown in some parts of New Mexico. A sporadic case is the development of short syllabic from accented úrr- in the word murre <muy+the intensive prefix re-.19 This seems to be rare and takes place only when the word murre loses its primary accent before the adjective it modifies:

Spanish muy regrande> New Mexican Spanish murre grande>múře grande or mṛre gránde.

15 Ibid., Part I, §77.

16 Lindsay, Chapter II, §102. For many similar developments in Spanish and New Mexican Spanish, see Studies in New Mexican Spanish, Part I, §193.

17 Sommer, §35; Lindsay, Chapter IV, §92.

18 Studies in New Mexican Spanish, Part I, §193. Ingalaterra and coronica are frequent forms in Old Spanish. Parasitic vowels that break up the groups cl and gr are very common in Oscan, and it would be interesting to know if a primitive partial development of syllabic consonants was the real cause of their ultimate development. See Buck, Grammar of Oscan and Umbrian, Boston, 1904, §§79, 81.

19 Studies in New Mexican Spanish, Part I, §192.

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