Tracking subject position change in U.S. Southwest Spanish: What 19th and 20th century Tucson newspapers tell us

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Abstract

This study explores convergence in subject position in U.S. Southwest Spanish at the outset of its extensive contact with English. The data analyzed come from two Spanish newspapers published in Tucson, Arizona, in the years following the city's annexation to the United States through the Gadsden Purchase in 1854: El Fronterizo (1878-1914) and El Tucsonense (1915-1957). During this period of early language contact, the Hispanic population in Tucson faced a gradual process of anglicization that changed its status from majority in 1880 (63.8%) to minority in 1940 (29.9%). If there were structural convergence between the languages at stake, then there should be an English-driven gradual decrease across time in the postverbal subject use exhibited in the newspapers studied, as heritage varieties of Spanish develop. However, regressions with Rbrul show that, in the period analyzed, the probability of using postverbal subjects was not affected by the passing of time. Moreover, regression analyses show that the linguistic constraints affecting subject position in historical Tucson Spanish are basically the same that condition the variable in contemporary varieties: Absence of a postverbal phrase, sentential subjects, presence of a preverbal phrase, unaccusative verbs, animate subjects and heavy subjects. This study also shows that the weakest factor groups in contemporary varieties of Spanish started their declining process at least a century ago.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-292
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Historical Sociolinguistics
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

Keywords

  • Arizona
  • bilinguals
  • convergence
  • language contact
  • US Southwest Spanish
  • word order

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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