LINGUIST List 8.1356

Wed Sep 24 1997

Review: Spanish in Contact, Review #2

Editor for this issue: Andrew Carnie <>

What follows is another discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect these discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for discussion." (This means that the publisher has sent us a review copy.) Then contact Andrew Carnie at


  1. Liliana . Paredes, Re: Spanish in Contact

Message 1: Re: Spanish in Contact

Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 8:36:30 -0400
From: Liliana . Paredes <>
Subject: Re: Spanish in Contact

[****editor's note: the following is the second in two reviews about 
this volume. The first review can be found at: ***]

Roca, Ana and John Jensen, Eds (1996)_ Spanish in Contact. Issues in
 Bilingualism. Somerville: Cascadilla Press

Reviewed by Liliana Paredes, <>

 This book contains a selection of articles presented at the XII 
Symposium on Spanish and Portuguese Bilingualism (Miami, 1991). For this
publication, the authors have revised, expanded and updated their papers,
and in spite of the wide range of topics and lines of investigation, all
of the articles have in common the analysis of a contact situation 
between Spanish and another language.

 In the Introduction, Roca and Jensen suggest that in spite of the 
multidisciplinary approaches that can be used to analyze cases of 
bilingualism, linguistics has the most to teach about what happens when 
two languages come together' because in linguistics contact between
unlike entities can often shed new light on the nature of the entities 
themselves.' Thus, the reader may expect that the selected articles will
contribute to understanding the nature of the languages under examination, 
and therefore, the nature of the contact between them. Keeping
this in mind, the reader may also expect that the articles address the 
issue of the similarities and differences between the languages in contact
in order to better understand what determines the outcome of the contact.

 The book is organized in three parts. Part I presents three articles 
about contact situations in Spain. The first article discusses the contact
between Spanish and Basque; the second examines the role of Spanish-Basque 
bilingualism in the acquisition of a third language (English); and the third 
article examines language attitudes in Barcelona. Part II includes four
essays discussing contact issues in Latin America. The first paper offers 
a profile of the language situation in Mexico; the second examines the 
contact between Spanish and Quechua in Peru; the third analyzes the bilingual
situation (Spanish-Guarani) in Paraguay; and the fourth explores the
contact situation of Spanish and English in an Anglo community in 
Argentina. Finally, all but one of the seven articles in Part III, deal 
with contact issues between Spanish and English in the
United States. In the following paragraphs I will briefly describe and 
discuss each article. 

 The articles in Part I address issues of language contact in Spain. 
In the first paper, Helebiduntasuna Euskadin: el Bilinguismo en el Pais Vasco,
Robert M. Hammond examines some influences of Spanish on Basque alongside the 
influences that Basque has had on Spanish. One of his goals is to demonstrate 
that such language influences have an implication for
language change. The data presented by Hammond cover the lexical, 
phonological, and syntactic levels of language. Hammond provides a list of 
lexical items in order to illustrate the influence of Basque on Spanish and 
vice versa. The influence of Basque on Spanish is shown to
occur in the form of lexical derivations, whereas the influence of 
Spanish on Basque seems to occur in the form of lexical borrowings. In 
addition to the individual lexical items, Hammond
introduces a list of what he calls Basque calques, arguing that they may 
have been borrowed from Spanish. Hammond does not offer a complete 
explanation of why these examples are evidence of an outcome of language 
contact. At the phonological level, Hammond describes the
inventory of vowels and consonants in Basque. Then, he mantains that 
there is Basque influence on certain Spanish phonemes. One example of 
this influence is the presence of an assibilated /r/
in Spanish. It is not clear if Hammond is refering only to an influence 
on Basque Spanish or general Spanish, but in any case, the existence of the 
assibilated form in other varieties of non-Peninsular Spanish raises a 
question of its origin from a Basque-Spanish contact. At the
syntactic level, Hammond suggests Basque influence on certain Spanish 
structures (uses of verbs of motion as auxiliaries, maintenance of the 
three degrees of demonstratives). According to Hammond, Spanish influence 
on Basque is observed in the unexpected' word order of
descriptive adjectives and nouns (Noun + Descriptive Adj.) and in the 
presence of variability in right and left-gapping in Modern Basque. 
The examples presented for the syntactic influence of
Spanish into Basque are interesting as a source of data, but more 
research is needed in order to provide solid evidence indicating that 
these instances of speech represent the outcome of
language contact. Finally, Hammond claims that the linguistic influences 
he has discussed in his work as the direct result of language contact 
appear to be important predictors of language
change' (9). Hammond bases his claim on the concept of the 
sociolinguistic history of the speakers as 'the primary determinant 
of the linguistic outcome of language contact' (Thomason
and Kaufman, 1988:35). However, Hammond's discussion of the 
sociolinguistic history of the speakers (of Basque and Spanish) is 
limited since he mentions the terms substratal and
superstratal influences without an in-depth discussion of these terms and 
their implications. Thus, it is difficult for the reader to understand 
what specific predictions are made for Spanish or Basque in terms of 
language change.

 The study presented by Cenoz in Learning a Third Language: Basque, 
Spanish and English is based on the Interdependence Hypothesis, which 
states that proficiency in one language can be transfered to another 
provided that there is adequate exposure and motivation.
Cenoz's hypotheses state that: 1. Bilingualism will have a positive 
effect on achievement of a third language (English), and 2. Bilingualism 
will have a positive effect on the different
dimensions of English proficiency. What is important in Cenoz's study is 
the fact that instruction of the third language is given in the 
minority language (Basque), therefore, the level
of proficiency in this language (level of bilingualism) will determine 
the level of proficiency attained in the third language. The subjects
of the study are Spanish monolingual students and
Spanish-Basque bilingual students. Six independent variables are 
examined: school model (defined as language of instruction), 
intelligence (IQ), socioeconomic status, attitudes towards
learning English, motivation, and exposure to the English language. As 
dependent variables, five tests of achievement were given to measure 
proficiency in English (speaking, listening, reading,
writing, and vocabulary and grammar). 
 Results of the statistical analysis support Cenoz's first hypothesis 
indicating that students instructed in Basque, bilingual students, 
achieved higher scores in English than students
instructed in Spanish (monolingual students). It is interesting to note 
that motivation, language exposure, and socioeconomic status are the 
factors that have a positive effect on the acquisition
of English, regardless of language of instruction or, in other words, 
bilingualism. The effect of the independent variables on the 
dependent variables (language skills) is examined next. For
three of the language skills examined (vocabulary and grammar, speaking, 
and writing), motivation is an excellent predictor of achievement. 
Achievement in reading and listening is better predicted by a factor 
of intelligence. Bilingualism, on the other hand, is not the most
significant factor affecting the level of achievement in English. It is 
the second most significant factor to predict oral proficiency, but 
its significance decreases as a predictor of achievement in
other language skills. However, as stated by Cenoz, bilingualism clearly 
has a positive effect on the achievement of English in general and on 
the different dimensions of English proficiency in particular.
 Doyle's study Referents of Catalan and Spanish for Bilingual Youths 
in Barcelona explores the attitudes of Barcelona's teens towards Spanish 
and Catalan. Doyle's analysis is qualitative and quantitative and is an 
attempt to examine the results of the normalization
program in Catalonia. Doyle's methodology includes a survey applied to 
school students whose parents fall into three categories: immigrant', 
mixed', and native of Catalonia.' Doyle's study
shows the importance of the instrumental and integrative value of Catalan 
for the subjects. Additionally, it is very interesting to observe that 
proficiency in Catalan, another factor examined in this paper, is 
significantly related to the integrative value of the language, whereas
instrumentality of the language has no relation to proficiency in 
Catalan. The role of Catalan for the subjects is apparent. One aspect of 
it is related to factors of ethnic and national identity.
Also, Catalan is considered a cultural asset, especially by the children 
of immigrants, and in general Catalan is considered a vehicle of 
communication (instrumental value). Spanish, on the
other hand, is mainly valued as a symbol of the state and as a useful 
communicative tool. Doyle's anlysis of the value of Spanish to the 
subjects of the research indicates that Spanish is
not threatened by the expansion of the Catalan language. Doyle's final 
conclusion states that the normalization program has succeed in 
promoting the identification of the Catalan language and
nation. A consequence of this is the erosion of the asymmetrical 
relationship of Spanish and Catalan.

 Part II starts with A Profile of Language Issues in Contemporary 
Mexico by Margarita Hidalgo. In this paper Hidalgo examines current 
language issues in Mexico, exploring the relationship between language 
policy, bilingualism, indigenous langauges, national standard
dialect, and regional Spanish dialects. Hidalgo's first sections of the 
paper offer an historic account of language policies during Colonial 
and Independence periods in Mexico. Then, Hidalgo examines language 
policies during the Twentieth Century. According to Hidalgo, it has
been just recently that Mexico has proclaimed itself to be a multilingual 
and pluricultural nation. The past fifteen years have been characterized 
by a policy of pluralism. The status of the indigenous languages varies. 
The common trend is a process of Castilianization, even if there is
bilingual education. Another linguistic issue is the status of Indian 
Spanish in modern Mexico because it entails the issue of language 
proficiency in Spanish among bilingual (indigenous)
people. Indian Spanish is the farthest from the standard variety of 
Spanish in Mexico; therefore, it has become the most marginal social 
variety in Mexico. Standard Mexican Spanish is linked to
a prestigous variety of Castilian spoken in the 17th century. Since the 
beginning of the 20th century, it has been the variety used in formal 
education, mass media, and official affairs. Its
urban character has facilitated its expansion as the norma culta.' 
Hidalgo also addresses the topic of popular Mexican-Spanish . Popular 
Mexican-Spanish has its origins in rural areas which
are characterized by their isolation from urban areas and by the absence 
of adequate formal education. The presence and spread of popular 
Mexican-Spanish in urban Mexico is due to factors of intense 
rural-to-urban mobilty, urbanization, and industralization. From a
dialectological perspective, Yucatecan Spanish seems to be an independent 
dialect that is due primarily to the contact between Spanish and 
Maya. Differences between this dialect and others appear not only in 
the lexicon but also in the pronunciation and syntax. Given this profile of
language questions in Mexico, Hidalgo concludes that Standard Mexican 
Spanish (SMS) has become a superimposed national dialect which has 
to be acquired by speakers of indigenous languages, regional dialects, 
and popular Mexican Spanish. This is not to say, however, that
SMS is a static variety. The contact with other forms of Spanish is 
definitely a source of change in SMS. Additionally, the democratized 
and massified higher education resulted in the decline
of traditional language forms. Thus, the sociolinguistic reality of 
post-colonial Mexico is an intricate organism with five major 
multidimensional spheres deeply interwoven' (70).

 In The Spanish of the Peruvian Andes: The Influence of Quechua on 
Spanish Language Structure, Carol Klee examines the contact between 
two typologically different languages: Quechua and Spanish. The purpose 
is to analyze three subsystems of Andean Spanish as well as
the Spanish interlanguage in order to determine to what extent Quechua 
has influenced the Spanish of the region. Klee's ultimate goal is to 
determine if, as proposed by Thomason and Kaufman (1988), any linguistic 
feature can be transferred from any language to any other
language'; or if there are structural constraints on the features to be 
transferred, as proposed by Silva-Corvalan (1990, 1993). The three 
structures examined are the clitic pronoun system, word
order, and the past tense system. Over sixty subjects were selected to 
carry out the research; this paper presents the results of the analysis 
of 20 of the speakers. The subjects were selected
according to factors of sex, age, and social class. Language proficiency 
(supposely in both languages) was determined by the speaker's report
on language usage. There seems to be an interaction between the factors 
of social class, language proficiency, and level of education
achieved by the subjects of the research. Thus, the reader may wonder 
which of these factors (if any) better explains the outcome of the 
contact and how to isolate the effect of each of these
factors on language performance. Finally, if proficiency in any of the 
languages in contact determines the level and amount of 
transfer/interference, then an adequate measure of language
proficiency is needed. Klee's analysis of the data allows her to conclude 
that there has been, in fact, interference from Quechua in the three 
subsystems examined. The clitic system has been
symplified as the result of a strategy used in the acquisition of a 
second language. The use of DOV word order -more common to Quechua- 
is extended among certain speakers but following
the structure and the pragmatic use of Spanish. With respect to the past 
tense system, speakers' usage of the present perfect and the past 
perfect tenses reflect the expression of an obligatory
category of Quechua on the basis of a reinterpretation of the semantic 
system of these Spanish tenses. Since none of these new' uses of 
Spanish represents a radical change in the syntactic
structure of Spanish, Klee mantains that her research supports 
Silva-Corvalan's proposal that the grammars of the languages in 
contact need to be compatible in order to admit foreign influence.
	 In Language, Affect and Nationalism in Paraguay, Russinovich 
examines the bilingual situation in Paraguay. The starting point of 
Russinovich's study is the general assumption that bilingualism in 
Paraguay is stable, and that both Spanish and Guarani are 
seen with positive affect. The findings of this paper are interesting 
since they challenge previous beliefs and offer a
different view of the Paraguay linguistic situation, which is not stable. 
Furthermore, language attitudes are divergent, and there is a clear 
diglossic situation. After a careful and detailed
review of census data, Russinovich determines that less than 50% of the 
population in Paraguay was functionally bilingual and that Spanish 
monolingualism covers approximately only 5% of the population, whereas 
monolingualism in Guarani covered about 43% of the population in 1982.
Russinovich's concludes that Paraguay is characterized by different 
language-usage norms depending mostly on the regional area (rural, 
urban, the capital), although age, gender, and education also play roles 
as determinants of linguistic norms. These norms range from Guarani
monolingualism to a bilingual continuum and, at the other extreme of the 
scale, Spanish as the favored form of communication.
	Cortes-Conde examines a case of possible stable bilingualism in Is 
Stable Bilingualism Possible in an Immigrational Setting? The Anglo-Argentine 
Case. The Anglo-Argentine community in Buenos Aires has apparently the 
best of conditions to mantain a stable bilingual situation. Cortes-Conde 
examines this situation with the goal of proving that language
maintenance and language shift are complex processes in any bilingual 
situation. In fact, CC concludes that the community she examines is undergoing 
language shift towards Spanish, in spite of the perfect' conditions 
for language maintenance. The instrumental value of
Spanish is one of the reasons for the shift. What is interesting for the 
author is that language shift does not imply individuals' loss of the 
mother tongue. The loss occurs at the community level.
 Part III consists of seven articles, of which the first one is 
English Calques in Chicano Spanish by Smeand and Clegg. The authors 
examine a corpus of Chicano Anglicisms in order to
apply their taxonomy of lexical borrowing (based on a previous taxonomy 
by Otheguy and Garcia, 1988). In this paper, the authors focus on 
calques and attempt to determine whether the calques are formally 
convergent or divergent. It is important to mention that it is not
unproblematic to determine when a certain lexical item is a calque. This 
is one of the limitations that the authors aknowledege. As a comment, 
I consider that the reader of this article must be familiar with theories 
and taxonomies of lexical borrowing in order to obtain a comprehensive
understanding of the new taxonomy proposed by the authors in this paper. 

 Yavas' study Differences in Voice Onset Time in Early and Later 
Spanish-English Bilinguals examines the voice onset time (VOT) 
values of the English stops /p, t, k/ in the speech
of bilinguals. The goal of this article is to determine the role of age 
as a factor affecting the ability to obtain native-like pronunciation 
of English. The author examines two groups of bilinguals whose age of 
English acquisition are six and twelve respectively and whose exposure to
English has been about 14 years. Also, the author includes a control 
group of Englishindentity of L-indexing between a governor and the trace' (199). monoliguals in order to have a point of reference for 
the production of native VOTs. It is interesting that among the sentences 
given to the subjects to read, the researcher included 10
examples that can be considered instances of codeswitching (134). 
However, it would have been useful if the author had explained the 
rationale behind these examples, and, moreover, if the
analysis would have distinguished between the two different sets of 
sentences (as two independent variables). Yavas' results show that 
early bilinguals' (age 6) speech is equal or very
similar to that of the English monolinguals. Late bilinguals' 
performance, although different from the monolinguals, is still within 
the possible limits of the native range. The final conclusion
of this paper is that the ability to acquiring native-like pronunciation 
somewhat declines with the increase of age.

 Bilinguals in Little Havana: The Phonology of a New Generation by 
MacDonald is a study that attempts to replicate an early analysis of 
phonological variation in English, with the goal of exploring possible 
explanations that account for such variability. The author examines
two Cuban groups which are from two different social backgrounds. Four 
English phonemes are selected for the analysis, and eight possible 
variants are considered (145). These are at least two questions the reader 
may wonder about with respect to the analysis in particular and the study
in general. First, it would have been worthwhile to incorporate in the 
analysis an examination of the phonetic contexts in which these 
particular phonemes were realized, in order to eliminate
other possible influences. Second, it seems questionable to argue that 
the two groups of subjects analyzed are totally comparable. Observe, 
for instance, that the mean arrival age for the Mariel
group is 9.4, whereas the mean arrival age for the comparable' group is 
7.8. I consider this problematic since the author's main conclusion 
states that age at arrival is the primary explanatory factor for the 
phonetic variability found among the speakers. Additionally, the first
study done by the author considered three different groups according to 
age at arrival in the USA. In the present study, the analysis only 
considers one group of individuals that is, then, compared with one 
of the groups previously examined. However, the conclusions of the paper
are drawn from the results obtained for all the groups included in the 
author's first study.

 Spanish in Contact with Itself and the Phonological Characterization 
of Conservative and Radical Styles by Guitart does not fit the orientation 
of Part III of this volume. Guitart's interests are focused on the 
contact of lects of the same language. Some of the theory of
languages in contact is used to explore dialects in contact. Guitart 
examines in particular the possibility of diglossic relationship 
between lects (the extremes being High' and Low'), and
proposes the existence of different degrees of proficiency (including an 
interlect parallelling the notion of interlanguage) in the lects that 
a speaker may use. Another concept incorporated in
Guitart's study is style. He argues that a bilectal speaker has a 
repertoire of styles covering a range that goes from Low to High. 
Low and High are then associated with what Guitart has
proposed as radical' and conservative' varieties of Spanish. Guitart's 
core analysis focuses on the lect contact situation between 
Castilian and Andalusian in Southern Spain. The author
examines the occurrences of the sibilant phonemes in these two dialects 
in Spain. Although it was not the purpose of the study, it would have 
been useful if the author had presented examples of real speech 
exhibiting the uses of radical and conservative styles. His description of
the uses is not rigorous in the sense that it only provides general 
information and not specific evidence of what is proposed. Finally, 
Guitart concludes that formal schooling does not guarantee automatic 
control over the High style (the conservative variety of Spanish). Also,
Guitart suggests that in situations of lect contact there is switching 
between the radical and conservative varieties within the same discourse.

 Lipski, in Patterns of Pronominal Evolution in Cuban-American 
Bilinguals, examines the use of overt vs. null subject pronouns among 
Spanish-English bilinguals. The author's goal is to demonstrate that 
there is no resetting of a pro-drop parameter among the bilinguals he studies.
The author also proposes that the syntactic and referential properties 
related to overt and null subjects tend to converge, particularly when 
the level of bilingualism favors English. Lipski presents and analyzes 
data from bilingual and monolingual speech. From these data,
grammaticality judgments are requested from three different groups of 
individuals: monolingual Spanish speakers, balanced bilinguals, and 
English dominant bilinguals. The focus of study is on
transitional bilinguals, however, this study prompts Lipski to question 
the definition of this type of bilinguals, partly because they do 
not represent an homogeneous group. Therefore, Lipski's
conclusions are preliminary and not conclusive. Furthermore, Lipski 
forsees the need to define an empirical measure to identify 
transitional bilinguals objectively especially because transitional
bilinguals' speech provide valuable data of real bilingual performance.

 Spanish-English Code-Switching: Conditions on Movement by D'Introno 
is one of the two articles in this section that examines cases of 
code-switching. The author's goal is to analyze code-switching examples 
of balanced Spanish-English bilinguals. The focus of analysis are cases
of impossible utterances' and the goal is to explain them following the 
Government and Binding theory (Chomsky 1981, 1986). D'Introno's review 
and extension of Woolford's (1983,1984) study results in a proposal of 
incorporating a universal condition on empty categories generated by
movement rules. This condition is related to the Empty Category Principle 
and requires the 'identity of L-indexing between a governor and the trace'

 The last paper of this book is Code-Switching in Generative Grammar 
by Toribio and Rubin. The authors' goal is to propose a new model of 
analysis for the study of syntactic aspects of language contact, among 
which they include code-switching. The focus of their analysis are
cases of intrasentential code-switching and the authors examined them 
from a Minimalist perspective. I find this paper interesting because it 
proposes the incorporation of non-linguisitic factors into the study 
of code-switching, and therefore, into the study of bilingualism. In
particular, level of proficiency has a significant effect on language 
use. Thus, different bilingual behavior depends on how bilingual 
speakers of different levels of proficency interpret the
constrains that structure code-switching.

 The contributions to this volume vary in terms of content, 
methodology, perspective, and also in terms of quality. Many of the 
studies have the potential of motivating further research in
the area of languages in contact. In particular, I think that level of 
proficiency in the analysis of bilingual data needs to be considered 
in any study of bilingualism. Also, I agree with the authors
who propose that language samples and grammatical judgements from 
unbalanced or transitional bilinguals (in this sense, data from the 
interlanguage of bilingual speakers) provide a valuable source of data. 
Thus, this book can be considered an important contribution to the field
of bilingualism and languages in contact.

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue