ERIC Number: ED312885
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
Spanish Pro-Drop Meets the Bilingual Speaker.
Lipski, John M.
A study of the language use of 45 transitional Spanish-English bilinguals focused on subject pronoun usage patterns evolving when the bilingual has acquired both a prodrop (Spanish) and a non-prodrop (English) language and frequently switches between them. Subjects were of Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican background, and had not attained the language proficiency of fluent Spanish monolinguals. Findings suggest that modifications of Spanish in a bilingual setting involve underdifferentiation of null and overt subject pronouns, whose behavior is not fixed by parameters but determined by pragmatic and perhaps prosodic configurations. Spanish overt pronouns appear to be losing their status as stressed or strong pronouns as opposed to inherently weak null pronouns, thus paralleling English, where overt subject pronouns are normally unstressed but can receive contrastive or emphatic stress. Transitional bilingual Spanish speakers seem to be approaching the stage where the only feature distinguishing null and overt pronouns is the presence or absence of phonetic substance. It is concluded that the resetting of the null subject option is not the normal outcome in unbalanced bilingualism, but that the possibility for null subjects exists in Spanish at all levels. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at a conference on New Ways of Analyzing Variation in English (Durham, NC, October 21-23, 1989).