This present work examines 932 cases of intensified adjectives in Puerto Rican Spanish using quantitative, variationist methodology. In informal, conversational Spanish, use of bien (86%) as an intensifier for adjectives far outweighs use of muy (13%) in frequency. Regression analyses determine which (extra)linguistic factors significantly favor bien use as an intensifier [speaker gender/age, semantic content of adjective (positive vs. negative)]. The contribution of semantic content of adjectives to intensifier selection is neutralized with adjectives invariably expressing positive/negative attributes and in the speech of young men, suggesting only partial retention of the positive modal meaning of bien in this variety. The overall pattern of intensifier variation in these data is thus complex and the methods employed in this work highlight the multifaceted and multidimensional interactions inherent in pathways of linguistic change.
Selected Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Ana M. Carvalho and Sara Beaudrie
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