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Regressive Assimilation and Voiceless Dental Fricatives

May 9, 2005

Kevin and Holly High, currently in Spanish language school enroute to missionary service in Argentina, send along this message, excerpted from a longer e-mail. Bottom line? Pray for the Highs!!

The end of the Spring semester in Spanish language school at the Rio Grande two-hour each day final starting at 8:15. Monday’s final is on conversation.

We have to hold a Spanish conversation with the professor and tell him about our families, all about clothing, and all about the foods and happenings at a restaurant, followed by a graded recitation of John 3:16-17 in Spanish.

Tuesday’s final is recitation and pronunciation drills to see how well we have progressed. Wednesday’s is phonetics. It is by far the most technical. We know more phonetic rules in Spanish than I could ever imagine exist in English.

For example: in juncture modification does the regressive assimilation of an r on the preceding s produce a voiceless dental fricative or a voiced dental fricative, and is the r a trill, a flap, or a fricative. Or: name the 6 points of articulation of the n (dental, bilabial, labiodental, palatal, velar, or prealveolar) and give a Spanish word for each, what joy?

Finally, on Thursday, we have the grammar final, the hardest of them all.