While the expression of a subject pronoun is variable in both Spanish and Portuguese, studies have shown that Spanish dialects tend to favor null pronouns, while in Brazilian Portuguese overt expression of pronominal subjects is becoming more and more frequent. This paper focuses on subject pronoun expression in a variety of Spanish in contact with Portuguese in a bilingual town in Uruguay from a variationist perspective. Based on sociolinguistic interviews with Spanish-Portuguese bilinguals, this study identifies the following factors that condition the expression of the subject pronoun in border Spanish: parallelism, grammatical person, discourse connection, lexical content of the verb, and reflexive use of the verb. In addition, these results are compared with distributional patterns found in monolingual varieties of both Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish by previous studies, in order to test to what extent the behavior of this variable in this bilingual variety of Spanish is affected by contact with Portuguese. It is concluded that in general, subject pronoun expression in border Spanish mirrors that of monolingual speakers of Spanish, which indicates that Portuguese does not seem to be influencing these bilinguals' realization of this variable. The ultimate goal of this investigation is to explore to what extent bilinguals utilize parallels between their languages in situations where similar languages are in contact.
Selected Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Jim Michnowicz and Robin Dodsworth
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