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Review of  Patrones sociolingüísticos de Madrid

Reviewer: Salvatore Callesano
Book Title: Patrones sociolingüísticos de Madrid
Book Author: Ana M Cestero Mancera Isabel Molina Martos Florentino Paredes García
Publisher: Peter Lang AG
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Text/Corpus Linguistics
Issue Number: 29.3383

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Producing an edited volume of research that considers the linguistic complexity of a heterogeneous urban sociolinguistic context is a challenging undertaking. Editors Ana M. Cestero Mancera, Isabel Molina Martos, and Florentino Paredes García achieve this goal in Patrones sociolingüísticos de Madrid. The edited volume consists of ten chapters written by multiple authors who follow the traditional subject matter order of the most ‘introduction to linguistics’ textbooks (i.e. phonetics/phonology, (morpho)syntax, pragmatics, and discourse) all under the umbrella of sociolinguistic methods and analyses. The text opens with a prologue, written by Francisco Moreno Fernández, that describes the historical process that created Madrid’s current centralized and yet globalized linguistic marketplace. Moreno Fernández explains how political factors, such as the death of Franco, lead to an increase in innovative linguistic forms and how now, in the 21st Century, Madrid is becoming more of an international city comprised of immigrant groups from a range of national origins.

Chapter 1 - El estudio sociolingüístico de Madrid - Ana M. Cestero Mancera, Isabel Molina Martos, and Florentino Paredes García

In the first chapter of this volume, “El estudio sociolingüístico de Madrid”, Mancera, Martos, and García provide the necessary background information to guide readers through the subsequent analytical chapters. The neighborhoods of Salamanca and Vallecas provide the geographic context for the chapter, as well as the book. The neighborhood of Salamanca is located in the urban center of Madrid and is described as innovative, bourgeois, and of middle-upper class. On the contrary, Vallecas, located in the periphery of Madrid-city, is described as a densely populated, sociologically heterogeneous community made up primarily of immigrants either from other countries or from different regions in Spain.

The authors present a description of the ‘Proyecto para el estudio sociolingüístico del español de España y América’ (PRESEEA), which has as a main goal easing the availability for data comparison and the exchange of materials across Spain and the Americas. Of particular interest to this edited volume is PRESEEA-MADRID. A detailed illustration of the PRESSEA-MADRID corpus is presented with information on who the informants are, how the data are pre-stratified for sex, age, and education level, post-stratified for social class, lifestyle (family, leisure, or work-based), and family heritage (Madrid, northern-Spain, southern-Spain, mix, or other). Most of the methods that the authors present, probably with the exception of ‘lifestyle’ as an independent variable, closely follow traditional variationist sociolinguistic approaches to the study of the language variation (i.e. semi-guided interviews). Finally, the authors discuss how the immigrant community in Madrid in not comprised of recent arrivals and they are now considered ‘madrileños’ who are assimilating or have already assimilated to the speech norms of middle-class Madrid-city for reasons of social mobility.

Finally, the authors describe the main objective of this edited volume as a rigorous variationist study of a collection of phonetic, lexical, morphosyntactic, and discursive features of Madrid Spanish with the hopes of interpreting the sociolinguistic and sociopragmatic processes in the city that are most relevant to the Hispanic/Latino communities across the world, keeping in mind the comparative and cooperative goals of PRESEEA.

Capítulo 2 - La conservación de la dental -/d/- en el distrito de Salamanca - Isabel Molina Martos y Florentino Paredes García

In the first of two sections on phonetic variation, Molina Martos and Paredes García present an analysis on the retention of intervocalic /d/, specifically in the Salamanca neighborhood. This chapter presents this feature in a fashion that opposes typical research - that is the conservation of the variant, as opposed to its reduction or deletion. In the chapter the authors do consider three possible realizations, namely the approximant, a reduced variant, and complete deletion. As the Salamanca neighborhood is a socially prestigious area of Madrid-city, it is also conservative in its linguistic productions. The results of the analysis, which are illustrated with Chi-square tests and Cramer’s V, show 19 significant correlations. For example, when the intervocalic /d/ is found in a participle, such as –ado, it is likely to be deleted. The final conclusion of this chapter is that retention of intervocalic /d/ is a stable feature of Madrid Spanish, at least within the Salamanca neighborhood.

Capítulo 3 - La variable sociolingüística -/s/ en el distrito de Vallecas (Madrid) - Isabel Molina Martos

Transitioning to a focus on the Vallecas neighborhood, the author of Chapter 3 presents an variationist analysis of the commonly studied syllable-final /s/. She considers four possible variant realizations of /s/: [s], [h], consonant assimilation, and deletion. The analysis conducted is probabilistic using the Goldvarb software, which included two multiple regressions, one on [s] and the other on [h]. What makes this chapter stand out is, however, the inclusion of Spanish immigrants in the region of Vallecas, and this is because immigrants coming to Madrid from the south the Spain typically aspirate their syllable-final /s/. However, the findings from this study show that Vallecas, like Salamanca, is relatively conservative, especially when you compare /s/ production in Vallecas with areas such as Getafe and Alcalá de Hernares. Variation is found among the different stylistic variables considered and the results show that people from Vallecas retain coda-/s/ to mark that they are a part of the Madrid community, yet at the same time they aspirate to mark a more local/heritage based identity.

Capítulo 4 - Funciones subjetivadoras del diminutivo en el habla de Madrid - Florentino Paredes García

Chapter 4 moves to a sociolinguistic analysis of a morphological variable, specifically eight variants the diminutive suffix: -ito, -illo, -ete, -ico, -uelo, -in(o), -ejo, and –uco (with their respective gender and number inflections). The author dedicates a lot of time to a description of the variants on various analytical scales. On a scale from more objective to more subjective, the author describes the functions and valuations of Spanish diminutives (e.g. lexicalizing, quantifying, and qualifying). All results are described descriptively with Chi-square analyses. The data show that the –ito is the most common diminutive variant in Madrid (62.8%) but also that is used across all of the functions studied. –illo appears in the data often as well (19.1%) but the author argues that this diminutive suffix is currently in a process of lexicalization. In terms of functions, madrileños tend to use diminutives for quantification when highlighting size and also to decentralize the object as not a prototypical example. Regional, gender, and age differences are also found. For example, the author claims that the female speakers use more subjective functions, as opposed to objective, arguing that women’s speech is more personal than men’s speech.

Chapter 5 - Integración sociolingüística de los inmigrantes ecuatorianos en Madrid: datos sobre el diminutivo según los corpus ISPIE-MADRID y PRESEEA-MADRID - María Sancho Pascual

Transitioning from Chapter 4, the author aims to further the discussion of the Spanish diminutive, however this time in terms of the integration of the Ecuadorian immigrant community in Madrid. Where Chapter 4 described the treatment of diminutives of the general Madrid community from PREESEA-MADRID, Chapter 5 asks how the Ecuadorians converge or diverge linguistically. This work uses 12 interviews from the ISPIE-MADRID corpus, pre-coded for participant sex and length of residency in Madrid. A total of 250 diminutives were considered in the coding process; however 190 were analyzed. Lexicalized suffixes (N = 60) were excluded from the analysis. Overall, the author suggests that the Ecuadorian population in Madrid seems to be converging towards the patterns used by the madrileños. Yet, at the same time, evidence of divergence is found. The two diminutives that the Ecuadorians are incorporating into their newfound linguistic repertoire are primarily –illo and –ete. The author claims that, based on a qualitative analysis of the data, the adoption of these new diminutive forms is more likely to occur when the migratory process is not linked to family. The authors states that this hypothesis still requires more data to reach a confident conclusion.

Chapter 6 - Nuevos datos sobre el uso y las funciones de los pronombre átonos de tercera persona en Madrid - Florentino Paredes García

Paredes García analyses the frequencies of variable third person clitic pronouns (e.g. le, lo, la, les, los, las) in Madrid. The data come from 30 minutes of 108 semi-directed interviews within the PRESEEA corpus. The author first presents a broad analysis of the respective absolute and relative frequencies. The subsequent analyses are more detailed and restrict the data set to variables such as syntactic function. Overall, leísmo is a widely used structure in Madrid Spanish, while laísmo is used somewhat, and loísmo is virtually absent from the population sample. The chapter also dedicates a large portion to the etymological characteristics of the pronoun use. Although generally stable, variation was found among the individual speakers, motivated by sociolinguistic integration. For example, in this chapter, leaders of a change are found to be men above 40 with little education, suggesting that others are avoiding stigmatized variants due to social pressures.

Chapter 7 - Las locuciones verbales en el habla de Madrid (distrito de Salamanca) - Inmaculada Penadés Martínez

With a focus on the Salamanca neighborhood, the author analyzes phrasal verbs considering both idiomatic (romper el hielo) and non-idiomatic examples (darse cuenta) The data come from PRESEEA and a total of 263 phrasal verbs used in the analysis (160 idiomatic and 102 non-idiomatic). Considering the amount of data available in the corpus, this is a low token count, which leads the author to state that these features do not constitute a characteristic feature of the neighborhood. The statistical representation of the data in this chapter is descriptive. The chapter also discusses the notion of linguistic “register” and notes that even in colloquial speech, phrasal verbs are not common. The author also describes some examples of variation found within the sample. For example, there is a gender difference where women use more informal verbal phrases than the men. Crucially, the author concludes with a methodological remark, stating that the best approach to studying verbal phrases might be with direct measures such as those seen in surveys.

Chapter 8 - Estudio sociolingüístico del tabú en el habla de Madrid: propuesta metodológica y primeros resultados - Ana M. Cestero Mancera

Following a recently developed trend in sociolinguistic studies, Cestero Mancera presents a preliminary analysis of taboo words. She conceptualizes linguistic taboo in the following fashion: ancestral, which consists of magic/religion/fear (religion, the supernatural, death, and sickness) and social, which consists of sexual (acts/conducts, body parts, conditions/options), scatological (acts, body parts, objects/places), and social respect (social differences, family relations, and undesirable actions/personal shortcomings). Since taboo language is a social product, it is an ideal variable for sociolinguistic and sociopragmatic analyses and not much previous research has been conducted on such a topic, especially in Spanish. The data also come from the PRESEEA corpus and the goal is to discover the sociolinguistic patterns of the use of taboo in Madrid. In addition, Cestero Mancera incorporates a survey on language use into her data collection methods, following the requirements for PRESEEA. In this pilot analysis, 18 interviews are used, balanced by gender, age, and education level. The results show that, of 726 expressions, 41% (298) refer to the social category, 30% to the sexual, 25% to the magical/religious, and 4% to the scatological. Significant differences are found for educational level and age, however the results show no difference according to gender.

Chapter 9 - Estrategias de atenuación en el barrio de Salamanca de Madrid - Isabel Molina Martos

Continuing with studies on sociopragmatics, Molina Martos presents an analysis of linguistic attenuation in the Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid. Linguistic attenuation is essentially how interlocutors reduce disagreement in order to achieve the goal of the conversation. There is a balance between what is referred to as a negative image – the hope that each individual has that their actions will not be impeded – and a positive image – how individuals views themselves and the hope that this is recognized by the other. For example, when we congratulate someone, we are attending to their positive image and when we give someone an order, we go against their negative image. This topic is closely related to linguistic affiliation or autonomy. The data for this sociolinguistic analysis come from the PRESEEA corpus, using 18 speakers from Salamanca stratified by sex, education level, age, and social class. Totals of attenuation examples were not counted, however the author counted for conversational turns (N = 886) that included at least one attenuation. The results show that the inferior relationship that the interviewee has to the interviewer plays a role in linguistic attenuation. There is also an age difference, where the younger speakers attend more to their personal image and as speakers get older they start to balance out the two strategies.

Chapter 10 - La atenuación lingüística en el habla de Madrid: un fenómeno sociopragámatico variable - Ana M. Cestero Mancera

The final chapter of this edited volume attends to the same feature addressed in Chapter 9, however in the Vallecas neighborhood. The approach taken by Cestero Mancera in this chapter is interdisciplinary, with influence from conversation analysis, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and speech act theory. Eighteen interviewers are used from the PRESEEA corpus. The dependent variable is the type of attenuation: dicum (reduction of meaning), modus (reduction of illocutionary force), and dictum and modus (reduction of both). In addition, 25 linguistic resources related to attenuation are detailed. In this population subsample, there is significant variation conditioned by the social backgrounds of the speakers. Men attenuate more than women, adults more than young speakers, and finally those with higher education more than those with lower levels of education. The most common type of attenuation is modus, followed by dictum and modus, and then lastly dictum.


The goal of this edited volume is to present an overview of Madrid’s contemporary linguistic patterns, and the cohort of authors are certainly successful in that endeavor. Patrones sociolingüísticos de Madrid presents a wide range of sociolinguistic analyses, ideal for an academic audience. In particular, scholars of the variationist paradigm and especially to those who conduct sociolinguistic analyses with corpus data will find the book to be quite valuable. The empirical nature of each chapter qualifies the volume as rigorous, with attention paid to detail.

The edition as a whole would benefit from attention to variationist sociolinguistic frameworks. Research in variationist sociolinguistics, such as Labov (1966), would not only better support the authors’ arguments, but allow for cross-linguistic comparisons of the sociolinguistic patterns found in this volume. With regard to certain social factors, such as gender (see conclusions of Chapter 4) the field of sociolinguistics has advanced over the past few decades with a call to avoid discussing truly heterogeneous categories as homogeneous and static entities (Eckert 1989). In addition, recent examples of Spanish dialect contact (e.g. Otheguy and Zentella 2012) and immigrant integration would have made certain conclusions of this volume more profound.

The statistical analyses that were conducted in these studies would have been strengthened with more contemporary methods, such as regression models. With the large amount data available to them in the different corpora, the authors have an opportunity to run more sophisticated, inferential analyses and to quantitatively examine the relationships between multiple factors.

To conclude, the book presents a useful resource for sociolinguists interested in sociolinguistic variation in Madrid, whether the variable of interest is phonetic, morphosyntactic, or pragmatic. Overall, by presenting various analyses of linguistic patterns across socially distinguished neighborhoods and the integration of a recently arrived community, the authors have achieved their goal of presenting a contemporary view of Madrid Spanish and successfully provided a tool for future researchers in the field.


Eckert, P. 1989. The whole woman: sex and gender differences in variation. Language Variation
and Change 1(3): 245-267.

Labov, W. 1966. The social stratification of English in New York City. Cambridge University

Otheguy, R. y A.C. Zentella. 2012. Spanish in New York: language contact, dialect leveling, and
structural continuity. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Salvatore Callesano is a graduate student studying Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in sociolinguistics, language variation and change, and language perception/attitudes, with particular interests in U.S. Latina/o communities. He has conducted phonetic variation research in Buenos Aires and in Miami he has investigated language attitudes towards varieties of Spanish, implicit biases towards Spanish and English, and the relationship between the Miami English lexicon and perceived identities. He has lived in New York, Buenos Aires, Madrid, and Miami and is currently studying the interaction of linguistic variation, bilingualism, and immigration in Miami.

Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9783034316385
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