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CLS Distinguished Language Science Colloquium

Friday, March 16 at 9:00am to 10:30am

127 Moore Building, UP

Dora LaCasse, Graduate Student in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese (PSU), presents her research in the talk "The Subjunctive in New Mexican Spanish:  Measures of Productivity".

Abstract: 

Studies of the Spanish mood system almost unanimously report rapid loss or simplification of the subjunctive wherever Spanish exists in contact with English. The current study assesses variable mood choice within complement clauses in the New Mexico Spanish-English Bilingual corpus (NMSEB; Torres Cacoullos & Travis, in preparation). All complement clauses in the subjunctive, indicative, and in English (N=678) under main clause verbs that govern the subjunctive at least once were extracted. The most common justification given for claims of accelerated subjunctive loss in bilingual Spanish varieties is a lower overall subjunctive rate, though we know that overall rates can be misleading in assessing language change, contact-induced or not (Poplack & Levey, 2010:400).  Here, I apply measures developed by Poplack and colleagues (e.g., Poplack 1992, Poplack et al. 2013) to assess the productivity of the subjunctive in NMSEB when compared to a monolingual benchmark from the Corpus sociolingüístico de la Ciudad de México  (CSCM Martín Butragueño & Lastra 2011-2015). While a lower type frequency of subjunctive-selecting matrices in NMSEB (N=42) than in CSCM (N=111), suggests a possible loss of productivity, a more detailed comparison of subjunctive distributions according to matrix verb reveal similar patterns between the two corpora. Conditioning factors previously shown to relate to the structural routinization of the subjunctive (Poplack et al. 2018, Torres Cacoullos et al. 2018) are operative here as well. Results reveal comparable levels of subjunctive productivity between NMSEB and the monolingual benchmark, despite differences in overall rates.

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