Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 10, No 3 (2016)

(No) English interference on U.S. Southwest Spanish? A look at variable subject expression in Phoenix Spanish-English bilinguals

Alvaro Cerron-Palomino
Issued Date: 20 Jan 2017

Abstract


Subject pronoun expression (SPE) is one of the most studied variables in Spanish sociolinguistics, in the production of both monolingual and bilingual speakers. In the case of U.S. Spanish-English bilinguals, some studies suggest that the almost categorical use of English overt subject personal pronouns (SPPs) boosts the SPP rate in the Spanish of these speakers, whereas some other studies do not support such claim. Aiming to shed light on this subject, the present analysis of SPE in Phoenix is a variationist contribution to the literature on bilingual SPE in the U.S. Although the factors favoring SPP occurrence in the Spanish of Phoenix coincide for the most part with those attested across Spanish varieties, compared to other U.S.-bilingual Spanish varieties accounted for, it shows the lowest rate of overt SPPs: 17.8%, even lower than monolingual Mexican varieties. In addition, Spanish-dominant speakers in Phoenix favor overt SPPs, whereas English-dominant bilinguals disfavor them. When separate regression analyses were run for each proficiency group, it was found that both share virtually the same constraints contributing to the presence of the overt variant. These results do not support the contact claim. Since the Phoenix bilinguals pattern with other U.S. Southwest communities with regard to the aforementioned trends, it is suggested that proximity to the border may neutralize the SPE English effect in the Spanish of these communities, in contrast to communities that lack such regional traits, like New York and Florida.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v10i3.28327

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