Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Phillip M. Carter

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Andrew Lynch

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Melissa Baralt

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Ellen Thompson

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


sociolinguistics, perceptual dialectology, Spanish, Miami, social psychology, dialect, national labeling

Date of Defense



The current study implements a speech perception experiment that interrogates local perceptions of Spanish varieties in Miami. Participants (N=292) listened to recordings of three Spanish varieties (Peninsular, Highland Colombian, and Post-Castro Cuban) and were given background information about the speakers, including the parents’ country of origin. In certain cases, the parents’ national-origin label matched the country of origin of the speaker, but otherwise the background information and voices were mismatched. The manipulation distinguishes perceptions determined by bottom-up cues (dialect) from top-down ones (social information). Participants then rated each voice for a range of personal characteristics and answered hypothetical questions about the speakers’ employment, family, and income. Results show clear top-down effects of the social information that often drive perceptions up or down depending on the traits themselves. Additionally, the data suggest differences in perceptions between Hispanic/non-Hispanic and Cuban/non-Cuban participants, although the Cuban participants do not drive the Hispanic participants’ perceptions.





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