The Production of Spanish Rhotics by Spanish Heritage Speakers

When and Where

Friday, October 14, 2022 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
NF 332
Northrop Frye Hall
73 Queen's Park Crescent East, Toronto, ON M5S 2C3


Gemma Repiso-Puigdelliura


About the Presentation:

The Spanish rhotic system consists of a tap and a trill. Canonically, the former is produced with one brief apicoalveolar contact and the latter with 2-3 brief contacts between the tongue tip and the alveolar ridge. Arguably due to their articulatory complexity, the tap and the trill are among the last sounds that children produce (Acevedo, 1993). Such complexity may also influence rhotic development in Spanish heritage speakers (HS). Recent studies have found a prevalence of non-target-like realizations and high variability in the trill and tap productions by both child and adult HS (Amengual, 2016; Cummings Ruiz & Montrul, 2020; Fabiano-Smith & Barlow, 2010; Henriksen, 2015; Kehoe, 2018; Menke, 2018). The following questions emerge from previous research: What factors explain individual variation in the rhotic system of Spanish HS (i)? How do rhotics develop during the HS’ lifespan (ii)? How does rhotic development in heritage Spanish compare to that in non-heritage Spanish (iii)?

In this presentation, I will discuss findings of three studies that seek to answer (i) to (iii). In the first paper (Kim & Repiso Puigdelliura, 2020), I show that adult Spanish heritage speakers’ dominance has an effect on the frequency in which heritage speakers produce taps with lingual constriction. The second paper (Repiso-Puigdelliura & Kim, 2021) examines trill production in heritage Spanish by directly comparing child HS (9-to-10-year-olds) to adult HS. The study suggests that heritage Spanish trill development occurs in the order of single lingual constriction →frication → multiple lingual constrictions. The third study (Repiso-Puigdelliura, in preparation) compares trill production in child HS (7:7-11:10 years) and Spanish-speaking children raised in a mostly monolingual environment (5;1 to 11;8 years) and discusses individual variation considering exposure and use of Spanish.

About the Presenter:

Gemma Repiso-Puigdelliura is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at McMaster University. She obtained her PhD in Hispanic Languages at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2022. Her research seeks to shed light on the structure of heritage language grammars by examining grammar interaction in child and adult heritage bilinguals. In her doctoral dissertation, funded by the US National Science Foundation, she examined the development of connected speech phenomena in the Spanish and English of children raised in bilingual and monolingual environments. Her most recent research explores rates of development of the apicoalveolar trill in child heritage speakers raised in California.

Please note: this presentation will be presented in a hybrid format. For registration in the Zoom session, please visit:


Department of Spanish & Portuguese


73 Queen's Park Crescent East, Toronto, ON M5S 2C3