Assibilated [ř] in Ecuador: Exploring Sociolinguistic Factors among Young Quiteños

Jesus Toapanta


It is extraordinary how extra information such as age, birthplace, education, and social strata is displayed when people talk. Sometimes, it is enough to hear a person to know where that person is from. For instance, the juxtaposition placed on intelligence regarding the southern English dialects in the US:

Gov. Clinton, you attended Oxford University in England and Yale Law School in the Ivy League, two of the fines institutions of learning in the world. So how come you still talk like a hillbilly? (as quoted in Lippi-Green, 1997: 211)

Indeed, language aspects such as prosody, syntax, lexis, and/or pronunciation reveal certain characteristics such as birthplace, age, ethnicity, and social strata, to mention some. In Ecuador, one just needs to hear the interlocutor to know where the person is from or is not from. One peculiar characteristic of the speech of Quiteños in Ecuador is the usage of the Spanish trill [ r ] and/or the assibilated [ ř ]; that is, the intervocalic phone in the Spanish word ‘arroz’ can be realized with a trill [ r ] or an assibilated [ ř ] sound. This variation is allophonic and might make people rank individuals on a social scale, judge them as educated or uneducated, and/or link them to a particular speech community. 

This paper explores some possible extra-linguistic factors such as education, social class, and language domains that may be associated with this allophonic variation in the speech of young Quiteños. Data for this paper was collected through a questionnaire at one relatively large university in Quito-Ecuador and mainly reflects participants’ perception on the usage of these two sounds. 

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2016 International Journal of Linguistics

International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

Copyright © Macrothink Institute ISSN 1948-5425

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.