Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1571-0718
  • E-ISSN: 1571-0726
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To express nominal possession, Spanish speakers use a linguistic variable with three variants: a possessive adjective, a definite article and periphrasis. This study explores the expression of possession in Barranquilla, Colombia examining data extracted from sociolinguistic interviews with a socially stratified group of twenty informants. I conducted a series of statistical regression analyses for each variant testing ten linguistic and five social constraints. The results revealed that possessive adjectives and definite articles marking possession are almost evenly distributed. The expression of possession is conditioned by eight linguistic and two social constraints including distance between referent and possessive, semantic category, type of subject, speaker’s sex and social status/age. The results also suggest that the incursion of possessive periphrasis may constitute a manifestation of cyclicity, a crosslinguistic evolutionary process triggering internal syntactic and morphological adjustments. The results help increase our understanding of variation in contemporary Spanish and of how the sociolinguistic forces constraining language variation in Colombian Costeño Spanish conform to established sociolinguistic theory.


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