Talk by Dr. Daniel Erker, "How social salience can illuminate the outcomes of linguistic contact: Data from Spanish in Boston"
In this talk Dr. Erker argues 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.
Dr. Daniel Erker is Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics (with joint appointment in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) at Boston University. His research interests include language variation, contact, and change, acoustic and articulatory phonetics, Spanish in the United States, the languages of Latin America, and the evolution of human language. Professor Erker is the director of The Spanish in Boston Project. This project (funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS-1423840) aims to describe and understand how Spanish is used in the Greater Boston Area.