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Using Sociolinguistic Analyses of Discourse-Level Features to Expand Research on L2 Variation in Forms of Spanish Subject Expression
Kimberly L. Geeslin and Aarnes Gudmestad
16-30 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Sociolinguists argue that an account of variable subject expression in Spanish requires discourse-level analyses (Serrano, 1996). Moreover, linguistic variables such as perseveration and discourse cohesiveness will help explain use of subject forms (Bayley and Pease-Álvarez, 1997; Cameron, 1994; Flores-Ferrán, 2005). The current study connects sociolinguistic and second-language research by following the methods established in second language acquisition while conducting a detailed examination of these discourse-level features. The data come from sociolinguistic interviews completed by graduate-level non-native speakers (NNSs) and native speakers (NSs) of Spanish. The dependent variable is the full range of subject expression forms produced with finite verbs. Each token was coded for two discourse-level variables: perseveration (whether the subject form was the same as the preceding mention of the same referent) and referent cohesiveness (the distance and function of the previous mention of the referent). The statistical analyses show that NNSs and NSs respond to the discourse context as measured by perseveration and referent cohesiveness in ways that are consistent with previous research and that these two variables pinpoint key differences in subject expression between groups.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2009 Second Language Research Forum: Diverse Contributions to SLA
edited by Luke Plonsky and Maren Schierloh
Table of contents
Printed edition: $240.00