This study analyzes the variation of syllable- and word-final /s/ among two generations of Cubans in Miami, Florida (USA): older, early exile immigrants who arrived in Miami as adults in the 1960s and 1970s, and young Miami-born Cubans whose maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated to Miami from Cuba prior to 1980. Since sibilant weakening is generally considered to be an ongoing language change in Caribbean Spanish, it was hypothesized that the young generation of English-dominant bilinguals would present with much higher rates of aspiration and deletion, in keeping with Carmen Silva-Corvalán’s (1994) hypothesis that linguistic changes are accelerated in situations of language contact. However, the data instead revealed significantly higher rates of sibilant retention among young Miami-born speakers, indicative of a ‘reversed’ language change. This finding is attributed principally to the social need of the Miami-born grandchildren of early exile Cubans to differentiate their speech from that of later Cuban immigrant groups, mostly for political and ideological reasons. The influence of gender and the impact of Spanish language fluency among the young generation are considered, as is the role of language internal factors.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/andrewlynch/17/