Tid: Torsdag 8 oktober 2015, kl. 15:00–17:00
Plats: C397, Södra huset, Frescati

Postseminarium följer direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.

Of continued relevance in the study of variationist sociolinguistics are the twin questions of how to explain the statistical tendencies the analysis establishes and of whether sociolinguistic alternants have to have the same meaning. Answers require that we expand the theoretical sponsorship under which variationist research is conducted. To that end, the present paper connects with two analytical currents regarding a well-studied variable, the placement of Spanish nominal and pronominal subjects before and after verbs (Yoanis llamó ~ llamó Yoanis/ él llamó ~ llamó él). One of the analytical currents takes a variationist approach and treats the different positions as alternants of a single linguistic variable, to be illuminated through statistical analysis. The other one takes a functional-semiotic approach and regards the different positions as different signals for two different meanings, to be illuminated through qualitative analysis supported by quantitative predictions.

The speakers under study are Cubans living in New York City. They, as others in the Hispanic world, prefer preverbal subjects over postverbal ones (prefer Yoanis llamó and él llamó over llamó Yoanis and llamó él). This preference is even stronger in bilingual diasporic Cubans and their descendants in New York. For the latter, it is often said that bilingualism is implicated, due to the overwhelming preference in their other language for Yoanis called and he called over called Yoanis or called he.

Research by a team of scholars from Boston University, CUNY, and the University of New Mexico has looked into these questions under a variationist approach, using a corpus of 24 transcribed interviews. Some of the Cuban interviewees belong to the first (Cuban-born) generation and others to the second (U.S.-born) generation, allowing for comparisons. Our variationist project looks at language-internal predictors of the two subject positional alternants in each of the two generations. This paper then raises the question of explanation, inquiring into the meaning of the two positional variants, and using this meaning as a jumping board for asking why the predictive factors work out to be what they are, and why they change, or fail to change, in the New York-born generation.

Hjärtligt välkomna!
Päivi Juvonen, Ljuba Veselinova & Rakel Österberg