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Dr. Daniel Erker (Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics at Boston University), "How social salience can illuminate the outcomes of linguistic contact: Data from Spanish in Boston"

Event Type
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
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Mar 4, 2021   4:00 pm  
Dr. Daniel Erker (Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics at Boston University)
Carolyn Fornoff

Abstract: In this talk I argue the differing social salience of linguistic variables is key to understanding patterns of variation in situations of language and dialectal contact. Eight Spanish speakers, four recent arrivals to Boston, Massachusetts and four who grew up in the city, are compared along five different variables: filled pauses, subject pronoun presence/absence, pronoun position, general subject position, and coda /s/ deletion. The first four variables, which are argued to be non-salient, display a pattern of contact-induced structural convergence among the child-arrivals. In contrast, patterns in coda /s/, a highly salient variable, are largely overlapping among adult- and child-arrivals. The study’s results suggest that low salience features are more interconnected and more uniform in their reflection of the pressures of contact. By contrast, high salience features like coda /s/ are, due to their robust social-signaling potential, more independently and directly managed by language users, and are therefore more likely to demonstrate individuated trajectories in contact settings.

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