EDITOR(S): Holmquist, Jonathan C.; Lorenzino, Augusto; Sayahi, Lotfi
TITLE: Selected Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
SERIES: Cascadilla Proceedings Project
PUBLISHER: Cascadilla Press
Hilary Barnes, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, Pennsylvania
This volume is a collection of papers presented at the Third Workshop on Spanish
Sociolinguistics, held from April 6-8 in 2006 at Temple University. The eighteen
papers selected to appear in the proceedings offer a diverse range of research,
exploring aspects of phonology, morpho-syntax, bilingualism, language contact,
and discourse analysis. Richard Cameron's plenary speech, ''Three Approaches to
Finding the Social in the Linguistic'' serves as a thought-provoking exploration
of the diverse field of sociolinguistics. In it, he specifies three approaches
to identifying the social in the linguistic: the Indexicality Approach, the
Constraint Approach, and the Discursive Construction Approach, each illustrated
by his own previous research in Puerto Rico, Philadelphia and Chicago,
respectively. The ensuing chapters of the book are organized into three areas:
phonological variation, morpho-syntactic variation, and language contact
(discourse and grammar).
The first part of the book comprises papers addressing a wide array of
phonological variation across different dialects of Spanish, including Cuban,
Colombian, Yucatan Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Galician Spanish. The first
contribution, ''Effects of age and gender on liquid assimilation in Cuban
Spanish'' by Gabriela G. Alfaraz, examines liquid assimilation, popular in the
western and central regions of Cuba, and the degree to which it has advanced
across genders and generations. Results show that assimilation has spread from
one generation to the next and that men of both generations use more
assimilation than women. This result was statistically significant for /r/ but
not for /l/, leading the author to conclude that women use less /r/ assimilation
because it is more salient and socially marked than /l/ assimilation.
In ''Diphthongization of mid/low vowel sequences in Colombian Spanish'', Marisol
Garrido presents an acoustic analysis of the diphthongization of hiatus
(adjacent vowels such as [e.o]) in two dialects of Colombian Spanish (Andean and
Caribbean). The author notes that along with internal linguistic factors,
external social factors such as region and style are also implicated in
diphthongization. Results reveal a higher tendency towards diphthongization in
the Caribbean variety than in the Andean variety but this difference is
neutralized in more informal tasks such as narration. The author attributes the
higher rate of diphthongization to an act of identity.
A similar theme is pursued in ''El habla de Yucatám: Final [m] in a dialect in
contact'' by Jim Michnowicz, which adopts a sociolinguistic perspective on
Yucatan Spanish final /m/. Results from interview data show that [n] is the
preferred nasal variant in final position, but that [m] is more characteristic
of women, people with knowledge of Mayan, and speakers under the age of 50 - the
latter being the most important contributing social factor.
''Mobility and its effects on vowel raising in the coffee zone of Puerto Rico'' by
Julia Oliver Rajan examines the effects of migration on mid-final vowel raising
in the rural coffee growing area of Puerto Rico. The author finds that speakers
who leave the region for other opportunities are less likely to raise mid-final
vowels than speakers who remain in the rural area. While no gender difference
was found, there was a decrease in vowel raising in the young adults as compared
to the elders, which leads the author to conclude that vowel raising is
disappearing in younger generations.
Generational differences are also found in ''Lorain Puerto Rican Spanish and 'r'
in three generations'' by Michelle F. Ramos-Pellicia, which examines retroflex
'r' in coda position in three generations of Puerto Ricans in Ohio. The author
finds that the retroflex 'r' is most common in the third generation, which
supports an American English influence, but also finds that speakers of the
first generation use more retroflex 'r' when reading than second generation
speakers. The author concludes that this use of retroflex 'r' by both
generations cannot be due solely to American English and proposes influence from
classroom learning and influence from speakers of the other generations who have
had more contact with English.
The phonological variation section concludes with ''The use of gheada in three
generations of women from Carballo, A Coruña'' by Juan Antonio Thomas, which
examines the use of a typically voiceless glottal or pharyngeal fricative
instead of the voiced velar occlusive [g] in Galician. The author examines the
speech of 9 women from Galicia to determine the type of gheada employed in
different tasks, including a reading task, an oral test, and a free speech test.
Results show that the use of gheada is dependent on the formality of the
situation: use of non-gheada is higher than gheada use in the reading task
whereas the free speech task shows significantly higher gheada use. The author
concludes that the speakers do not use one specific system of gheada but rather
a system of socially conditioned allophones.
The second section of the book focuses on a variety of morpho-syntactic
features, including pronoun use, futurity, and copula choice. The first
contribution in this section, ''La pluralización del verbo haber impersonal en el
español yucateco'' by Carolina Castillo-Trelles, aims to determine what
linguistic, social and stylistic factors favor the pluralization of _haber_ in
urban Yucatan speech and whether there is a difference between monolinguals and
bilinguals in the region. Results reveal that the only contributing social
factor is gender: women pluralize _haber_ more often than men. The author
concludes that women are more aware of social prestige and the perceived
grammaticality of this construction.
The second contribution, ''Los Mexicanos in New Jersey: Pronominal expression and
ethnolinguistic aspects'' by Nydia Flores-Ferrán, examines the use of subject
personal pronouns in the oral narratives of Mexicanos living in New Brunswick,
New Jersey. Her results show that speakers favor null subjects more often than
overt subjects - consistent with previous studies (Otheguy and Zentella, 2005;
Silva-Corvalán, 1994). However, she notes that speakers tend to postpose subject
personal pronouns in narratives more than in controlled-elicited responses. She
attributes this to a priming effect where speakers respond to a question using
the syntax posed in the question.
Gender is again discussed in ''Exploring copula choice in Spanish: A look at
gender'' where Kimberly Geeslin and Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes examine the role of
gender in copula choice (_ser_ or _estar_) with adjectives. Copula use by
monolingual Spanish speakers across various regions of Spain was compared with
that of bilinguals in Galicia, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Valencia.
Results from a contextualized preference task show that while there are
differences in copula choice across the groups, these differences are not
correlated with gender.
In ''Social constraints on the expression of futurity in Spanish-speaking urban
communities'', Rafael Orozco explores the change from morphological future
(_jugará_ 'he will play') to periphrastic future (_va a jugar_ 'he is going to
play') by examining monolingual Colombians in Baranquilla and Colombians living
in New York City. Results show that speaker's sex and the complex factor group
of social class and age significantly influence the expression of futurity in
both groups. The author concludes that there is an internally-motivated change
in progress that started in Baranquilla before contact with NYC was established.
Language contact with English has accelerated this change, but is not its origin.
In ''Null objects and neuter _lo_: A cross-dialectal variationist analysis'' by
Assela Reig Alamillo and Scott A. Schwenter, the authors compare the use of the
neuter clitic _lo_ and null direct objects in Mexico City Spanish and Madrid
Spanish. While the overall pattern of object drop is similar, different
restrictions are found in each dialect with respect to null direct objects: in
Madrid Spanish, null Direct Objects are subject to lexical and constructional
collocations like ''no sé'' 'I don't know' and non-declarative sentences. By
removing structures like ''no sé'' from the analysis, null Direct Objects in
Madrid Spanish are much less frequent than Mexico City Spanish, where null
Direct Objects are more dependent on contextual factors.
The final paper in this section, ''Subject personal pronouns and impersonal
sentences in adult Colombian immigrants' Spanish'' by Dora B. Ramírez, analyzes
higher pronoun rates and frequent usage of the indefinite pronoun _uno_ in
impersonal constructions in the speech of bilingual immigrants in New York. The
author attributes these changes to first language attrition and prolonged
contact with English and other Spanish dialects in the United States.
The third part of the collection comprises papers addressing different aspects
of language contact, including morpho-syntax and discourse analysis. The first
contribution, ''Word order in bilingual Spanish: Convergence and intonation
strategy'' by Emily Hinch Nava, examines word order patterns in Spanish-English
bilinguals living in Los Angeles, California. Results confirm that bilinguals
produce subject-verb word order for unaccusative verbs more frequently than
monolinguals and that verb type, discourse factors, language dominance, and the
status of information (new vs. old) condition word order distribution. The
author attributes these results to a combination of external factors (language
contact) and internal factors (the inherent flexibility of word order in Spanish).
Morpho-syntactic features are also explored in ''Natural second language
acquisition or pidginization?: Present tense verb usage by adult Chinese
speakers of Spanish in Guayaquil, Ecuador''. Hsiao-Ping Hu examines the
acquisition of the Spanish present tense and subject-verb agreement by Chinese
immigrants living in Ecuador. Results show that older learners use unmarked
third-person singular verbs and fewer subject pronouns, a finding that suggests
reliance on the first language. The author compares this reduced language system
to a process of pidginization.
''New Latino diaspora and new zones of language contact: A social constructionist
analysis of Spanish speaking Latin Americans in Catalonia'' by Steve Marshall
analyzes how Latino migrants in Catalonia apply their sociolinguistic knowledge.
The author suggests that new migrants do this by exercising sociolinguistic
agencies in transition, in other words, using new structures from Catalonia but
retaining influence from old structures of the countries of origin.
In ''Blogging in two languages: Code-switching in bilingual blogs'', Cecilia
Montes-Alcalá explores the cultural nature of code-switching in a relatively new
domain. The author finds that code-switching does occur in online blogs,
especially for lexical items and to add emphasis. She argues that biculturalism
plays a central role in the code-switching of idiomatic expressions and
demonstrates a writer's familiarity with both the Hispanic and the Anglo worlds.
Morpho-syntax is addressed again in ''El contacto créole/espanol y la adquisicion
de cliticos en la frontera domínico-haitiana'' by Luis A. Ortiz López and Pedro
Guijarro-Fuentes. The authors analyze the acquisition of Spanish clitic pronouns
by Haitian learners of Spanish, Creole/Spanish bilinguals, and Dominican Spanish
monolingual speakers. The authors conclude that syntactic features (such as
movement) are acquired earlier than morphological features (gender and number)
in the interlanguage of L2 learners and the bilinguals.
The final contribution to the collection, ''Doing Catalan Spanish: Pragmatic
resources and discourse strategies in ways of speaking Spanish in Barcelona'' by
Robert E. Vann, explores four pragmatic resources used in Catalan ways of
speaking Spanish. He finds that doing Catalan Spanish leads to the creation of
common ground between two languages and cultures, and the expression of the
values, beliefs, and experiences shared within the group.
This collection of articles covers a variety of topics within Spanish
sociolinguistics including phonological and morpho-syntactic variation,
discourse analysis and work in language contact. Cameron's plenary speech
concerning how to find the social in the linguistic or the linguistic in the
social is a provocative look at the various aspects of the field, which are all
well illustrated in the subsequent chapters.
Aside from several spelling errors and occasional unlabeled abbreviations, the
articles are well written, with appropriate statistical analyses, tables, and
discussion. Many articles serve as excellent examples of sociolinguistic
research for graduate students and professionals, although some contributions
may require a more extensive knowledge of theoretical background. All chapters
contain statistical analyses where appropriate and a discussion of
One downfall to this collection is that several of the chapters seem somewhat
inconclusive and do not make strong contributions to the field. Results are
presented but implications are not discussed in detail in all of the articles.
Several articles present findings that are in line with previous research but
lack an original contribution. Given that this collection is based on
proceedings from a workshop, further research by these authors will
unquestionably provide more conclusive results that will contribute to the field.
In addition, the separation of the chapters into different categories
(phonology, morpho-syntax, and language contact) seems to misplace several
articles, particularly those investigating issues of language contact. The
language contact section is described as focusing on ''non-phonological aspects
of language contact, that is, syntax and discourse phenomena'' (vii). The
arbitrary exclusion of phonological variation prevents several articles on
language contact from being included in this section. Moreover, two of the
language contact contributions focus on discourse strategies of Spanish speakers
in Catalonia. While there is an expected overlap between language contact
studies and studies in phonology and morpho-syntax, some papers included in the
language contact category may be better suited to a category of discourse
analysis and bilingualism.
Overall, this collection is a great example of current sociolinguistic research,
touching on a variety of topics and dealing with many of the different aspects
of the field.
Otheguy, Ricardo and Zentella, Ana Cecila. 2005. Avances en el proyecto CUNY
sobre el español en Nueva York: Variación, cambio, e identidad en el uso
variable del pronombre personal sujeto en seis comunidades hispanohablantes de
la Gran Manzana. Paper presented at Congreso sobre el español en los EEUU,
Chicago: University of Chicago.
Silva-Corvalán, Carmen.1994. _Language contact and change: Spanish in Los
Angeles_. New York: Oxford University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Hilary Barnes is a Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at the Pennsylvania
State University. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, language
contact, and bilingualism.