Previous research on heritage Spanish vowel production has revealed consistent and systematic differences—including asymmetry in the vowel space, condensing and fronting of back vowels, and reduction and centralization of unstressed vowels—as compared to traditional descriptions of the monolingual Spanish vowel triangle. The present study takes another look at heritage Spanish vowels (both quality and quantity), using a group of “homeland” native Spanish-speaking late Spanish-English bilinguals for comparison purposes. Data for both groups were collected via a dyadic, meaning-focused task. Results revealed significant differences between heritage and homeland groups in front and mid-vowel quality, but no differences in vowel quantity. Additionally, both speaker groups centralized unstressed vowels, but no differences were found between groups. The heritage speaker data alone appear quite comparable to those of previous studies; however, the comparison to native Spanish-speaking late bilinguals points to important differences (and similarities) not previously signaled in studies that compare production to monolingual norms.
Knarvik, Nyssa; Solon, Megan E.; and DeClerck, Joshua, "Bilingual Spanish Vowels: The Case for Heritage Speakers" (2017). Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Other Graduate Student Scholarship. 1.