Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1571-0718
  • E-ISSN: 1571-0726
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Research on variation demonstrates that analyses of frequency and predictors of use contribute to our understanding of languages. Investigations of subject expression in Spanish in particular have identified differences across person and number of the verb that suggest that linguists should focus their analyses exclusively on a single category of that variable (e.g., Torres-Cacoullos and Travis 2010). The current paper examines the subject-expression forms produced in first- and second-person contexts in separate analyses, exploring the degree to which patterns of use generalize across verbal person categories. Data from 32 sociolinguistic interviews with native and non-native speakers of Spanish in the same speech community were coded for independent linguistic variables, such as switch reference, perseveration, tense, mood and aspect of the verb form, verbal negation, presence of object pronouns, specificity and reference cohesiveness. Separate multivariate analyses for first- and second-person referents show subtle differences between NSs and NNSs.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abreu, Laurel
    2012 “Subject Pronoun Expression and Priming Effects among Bilingual Speakers of Puerto Rican Spanish.” InSelected Proceedings of the 14th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, ed. by Kimberly Geeslin and Manuel Díaz-Campos , 1–8. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bayley, Robert , and Lucinda Pease-Alvarez
    1997 “Null Pronoun Variation in Mexican-descent Children’s Narrative Discourse.” Language Variation and Change9: 349–371. doi: 10.1017/S0954394500001964
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394500001964 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bentivoglio, Paola
    1987Los sujetos pronominales de primera persona en el habla de Caracas [First Person Subject Pronouns in Caracas Speech]. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 1988 “La posición del sujeto en el español de Caracas: un análisis de los factores lingüísticos y extralingüísticos [Subject Position in Caracas Spanish: An Analysis of the Linguistic and Extralinguistic Factors].” InStudies in Caribbean Spanish Dialectology, ed. by Robert M. Hammond and Melvyn C. Resnick , 13–23. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Blackwell, Sarah E. , and Margaret Lubbers Quesada
    2012 “Third Person Subjects in Native Speakers and L2 Learners’ Narratives: Testing (and Revising) the Givenness Hierarchy for Spanish.” InSelected Proceedings of the 14th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, ed. by Kimberly Geeslin and Manuel Díaz-Campos , 142–164. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Bock, J. Kathryn
    1986 “Syntactic Persistence in Language Production.” Cognitive Psychology18: 355–387. doi: 10.1016/0010‑0285(86)90004‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(86)90004-6 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bowles, Melissa , and Silvina Montrul
    2009 “Instructed L2 Acquisition of Differential Object Marking in Spanish.” InLittle words: Their History, Phonology, Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics and Acquisition, ed. by Ronald Leow , Héctor Campos , and Donna Lardiere , 199–210. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Cameron, Richard
    1994 “Switch Reference, Verb Class and Priming in a Variable Syntax.” InPapers from the 30th Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society: Volume 2: The Parasession on Variation in Linguistic Theory, ed. by Katharine Beals , 27–45. Chicago: Chicago Linguistics Society.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. 1995 “The Scope and Limits of Switch Reference as a Constraint on Pronominal Subject Expression.” Hispanic Linguistics6/7: 1–28.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Cameron, Richard , and Nydia Flores-Ferrán
    2004 “Perseveration of Subject Expression across Regional Dialects of Spanish.” Spanish in Context1: 41–65. doi: 10.1075/sic.1.1.05cam
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sic.1.1.05cam [Google Scholar]
  11. Comajoan, Llorenç
    2005 “Continuity and Episodic Structure in Spanish Subject Reference.” InFunctional Approaches to Spanish Syntax: Lexical Semantics, Discourse and Transitivity, ed. by J. Clancy Clements and Jiyoung Yoon , 53–79. London: Palgrave.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Davidson, Brad
    1996 “‘Pragmatic Weight’ and Spanish Subject Pronouns: The Pragmatic and Discourse Uses of ‘Tú’ and ‘Yo’ in Spoken Madrid Spanish.” Journal of Pragmatics26: 543–565. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00063‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00063-1 [Google Scholar]
  13. Flores-Ferrán, Nydia
    2002Subject Personal Pronouns in Spanish Narratives of Puerto Ricans in New York City: A Sociolinguistic Perspective. Munchen: Lincom Europa.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. 2004 “Spanish Subject Personal Pronoun Use in New York City Puerto Ricans: Can We Rest the Case of English Contact?” Language Variation and Change16: 49–73. doi: 10.1017/S0954394504161048
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394504161048 [Google Scholar]
  15. 2005 “La expresión del pronombre personal sujeto en narrativas orales de puertorriqueños de Nueva York.” InContactos y contextos lingüísticos: El español en los EEUU y en contacto con otras lenguas, ed. by Luis A. Ortiz López and Manel Lacorte , 119–129. Madrid: Iberoamericana.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Geeslin, Kimberly L
    2006 “Task Design, Discourse Context and Variation in Second Language Data Elicitation.” InSelected proceedings from the 7thConference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as a First and Second Language, ed. by Carol Klee and Timothy Face , 74–85. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. 2011 “The Acquisition of Variation in Second Language Spanish: How to Identify and Catch a Moving Target.” InThe Handbook of Spanish Sociolinguistics, ed. by Manuel Díaz-Campos . Malden, MA: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. 2013 “Future Directions in the Acquisition of Variable Structures: The Role of Individual Lexical Items in Second Language Spanish.” InSelected Proceedings of the 15th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, ed. by Chad Howe , Margaret Lubbers , and Sarah Blackwell , 187–204. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Geeslin, Kimberly , and Aarnes Gudmestad
    2008 “Variable Subject Expression in Second-Language Spanish: A Comparison of Native and Non-Native Speakers.” InSelected Proceedings of the 2007 Second Language Research Forum, ed. by Melissa Bowles , Rebecca Foote , Silvia Perpiñán , and Rakesh Bhatt , 69–85. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. 2010 “An Exploration of the Range and Frequency of Occurrence of Forms in Potentially-variable Structures in Second Language Spanish.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition32(3): 433–463. doi: 10.1017/S0272263110000033
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263110000033 [Google Scholar]
  21. 2011 “Using Sociolinguistic Analyses of Discourse-Level Features to Expand Research on L2 Variation in Forms of Spanish Subject Expression.” InSelected Proceedings of the 2009 Second Language Research Forum: Diverse Contributions to SLA, ed. by Luke Plonsky and Maren Schierloh , 16–30. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Geeslin, Kimberly L. , Stephen Fafulas , and Jason Killam
    2012 “The Acquisition of Narrative Sentence Structure: An Exploration of Syntactic Development in L2 Spanish.” Paper presented at Second Language Research Forum 2012 , Pittsburgh, PA.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Gudmestad, Aarnes , and Kimberly Geeslin
    2010 “Exploring the Roles of Redundancy and Ambiguity in Variable Subject Expression: A Comparison of Native and Non-Native Speakers.” InSelected Proceedings from the 12th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, ed. by Claudia Borgonovo , Manuel Español-Echevarría , and Philippe Prévost , 270–283. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Gudmestad, Aarnes , Leanna House , and Kimberly Geeslin
    2013 “What a Bayesian Analysis Can Do for the Sociolinguistic Study of Subject Expression in Second-Language Spanish.” Language Learning63(1): 371–399. doi: 10.1111/lang.12006
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12006 [Google Scholar]
  25. Gundel, Jeanette K. , Nancy Hedberg , and Ron Zacharski
    1993 “Cognitive Status and the Form of Referring Expressions in Discourse.” Language69: 274–307. doi: 10.2307/416535
    https://doi.org/10.2307/416535 [Google Scholar]
  26. Killam, Jason
    2011 “An Interlanguage Analysis of Differential Object Marking in L2 Spanish.” Indiana University dissertation.
  27. Linford, Bret
    2012 “The Role of Frequency in the Expression of Subject Forms in L2 Spanish.” Paper presented at Hispanic Linguistics Symposium , Gainesville, FL.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Malovrh, Paul
    2014 “Object Pronouns in Second Language Spanish.” InThe Handbook of Spanish Second Language Acquisition, ed. by Kimberly L. Geeslin , 185–201. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Montrul, Silvina
    2004 “Subject and Object Expression in Spanish Heritage Speakers: A Case of Morphosyntactic Convergence.” Bilingualism: Language and Cognition7: 125–142. doi: 10.1017/S1366728904001464
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728904001464 [Google Scholar]
  30. Montrul, Silvina , and Celeste Rodríguez Louro
    2006 “Beyond the Syntax of the Null Subject Parameter: A Look at the Discourse-Pragmatic Distribution of Null and Overt Subjects by L2 Learners of Spanish.” InThe Acquisition of Syntax in Romance Languages, ed. by Linda Escobar and Vincent Torrens , 401–418. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lald.41.19mon
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lald.41.19mon [Google Scholar]
  31. Orozco, Rafael , and Bailey Nunez
    2012 “¿Todos juntos o cada uno por separado? ‘All (SPPs) Together or Each One Separately?’: A Pronominal Expression Study.” Paper presented atthe New Ways of Analyzing Variation , Bloomington, Indiana.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Otheguy, Ricardo , and Ana Zentella
    2007 “Apuntes preliminares sobre el contacto lingüístico y dialectal en el uso pronominal del español en Nueva York.” InSpanish in Contact: Policy, Social and Linguistic Inquiries, edited by Kim Potowski and Richard Cameron , 275–298. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/impact.22.20oth
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.22.20oth [Google Scholar]
  33. 2012Spanish in New York: Language Contact, Dialectal Leveling, and Structural Continuity. New York: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737406.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737406.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  34. Poplack, Shana
    1980 “The Notion of the Plural in Puerto Rican Spanish: Competing Constraints on (s) Deletion.” InLocating Language in Time and Space, ed. by William Labov , 55–67. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Quesada, Margaret Lubbers , and Sarah E. Blackwell
    2009 “The L2 Acquisition of Null and Overt Spanish Subject Pronouns: A Pragmatic Approach.” InSelected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, ed. by Joseph Collentine , Maryellen García , Barbara Lafford , and Francisco Marcos Marín , 117–130. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Rothman, Jason
    2009 “Pragmatic Deficits with Syntactic Consequences?: L2 Pronominal Subjects and the Syntax–Pragmatics Interface.” Journal of Pragmatics41: 951–973. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2008.07.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.07.007 [Google Scholar]
  37. Rothman, Jason , and Michael Iverson, M
    2007 “On Parameter Clustering and Resetting the Null-Subject Parameter in L2 Spanish: Implications and Observations.” Hispania90: 328–341.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Schwenter, Scott A. , and Rena Torres Cacoullos
    2008 “Defaults and Indeterminacy in Temporal Grammaticalization: The ‘Perfect’ Road to Perfective.” Language Variation and Change20: 1–39. doi: 10.1017/S0954394508000057
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394508000057 [Google Scholar]
  39. Serrano, María José
    1996 “El análisis del discurso en variación sintáctica.” Hispanic Linguistics8: 154–177.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Silva-Corvalán, Carmen
    1982 “Subject Expression and Placement in Mexican-American Spanish.” InSpanish in the United States: Sociolinguistic Aspects, ed. by Jon Amastae and Lucía Elías-Olivares , 93–120. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Sorace, Antonella
    2004 “Native Language Attrition and Developmental Instability at the Syntax-Discourse Interface: Data, Interpretations and Methods.” Bilingualism: Language and Cognition7: 143–145. doi: 10.1017/S1366728904001543
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728904001543 [Google Scholar]
  42. Torres Cacoullos, Rena , and Catherine Travis
    2010 “Variable yo Expression in New Mexico: English Influence?” InSpanish of the U.S. Southwest: A Language in Transition, ed. by Susana Rivera-Mills and Daniel Villa Crésap , 189–210. Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Travis, Catherine
    2005 “The yo-yo Effect: Priming in Subject Expression in Colombian Spanish.” InTheoretical and Experimental Approaches to Romance Linguistics: Selected Papers from the 34th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), ed. by Randall S. Gess and Edward J. Rubin , 329–349. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/cilt.272.20tra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.272.20tra [Google Scholar]
  44. Young, Richard
    1991Variation in Interlanguage Morphology. New York: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): second language; Spanish; verbal subjects
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error