International Journal of Bilingualism
August 2015; 19 (4), Special Issue:
Guest editors: Catherine E. Travis and Rena Torres Cacoullos
Comparisons of variation patterns to test convergence
The papers in the volume test the convergence via code-switching hypothesis capitalizing on a unique bilingual corpus. Comprising copious multiword code-switching by members of a longstanding community, the New Mexico Spanish-English Bilingual (NMSEB) corpus makes it possible to probe the workings of spontaneous bilingual speech, from the syntax and prosody of borrowing and code-switching to cross-language structural priming. The convergence via code-switching hypothesis is tested by a novel real-time measure: speakers’ juxtaposition of multiword sequences of each language is included in analyses as a predictor variable. Implementation of this test indicates a disjunction between bilinguals’ phonology, which may be labile, and morphosyntax, which is stable, confirming that grammatical convergence is far from a foregone conclusion of bilingualism.
Linguistic Variation: Confronting Fact and Theory honors Shana Poplack in bringing together contributions from leading scholars in language variation and change. The book demonstrates how variationist methodology can be applied to the study of linguistic structures and processes. It introduces readers to variation theory, while also providing an overview of current debates on the linguistic, cognitive and sociocultural factors involved in linguistic patterning. With its coverage of a diverse range of language varieties and linguistic problems, this book offers new quantitative analyses of actual language production and processing from both top experts and emerging scholars, and presents students and practitioners with theoretical frameworks to meaningfully engage in accountable research practice.
This study of Old Spanish and present-day Mexico and New Mexico data develops a grammaticization account of variation in progressive constructions. Diachronic changes in cooccurrence patterns show that grammaticization involves reductive change driven by frequency increases. Formal reduction results in the emergence of auxilliary-plus-gerund sequences as fused units. Semantically, the constructions originate as spatial expressions; their grammaticization involves gradual loss of locative features of meaning. Semantic generalization among parallel evolutionary paths results in the competition among different constructions in the domain of progressive aspect. Patterns of synchronic variation follow from both the retention of meaning differences and the routinization of frequent collocations, as well as sociolinguistic factors. Purported changes in Spanish — English bilingual varieties are largely a feature of oral, informal language rather than a manifestation of convergence.