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Title:Tracing language variation in Spanish: A multidisciplinary approach
Author(s):Arechabaleta Regulez, Begoña
Director of Research:Montrul, Silvina
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Montrul, Silvina
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bowles, Melissa; Jegerski, Jill; Foote, Rebecca
Department / Program:Spanish and Portuguese
Discipline:Spanish Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Spanish DOM
language variation
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on a grammatical structure known as Differential Object Marking (DOM). DOM is the morphological marker that marks some but not all direct objects based on hierarchies such as animacy or referentiality (Aissen, 2008). In Spanish, the language that is the subject of this dissertation, animate and specific objects are marked with DOM, as in Juan ve a María ‘Juan sees DOM María’. However, as suggested by several recent studies (von Heusinguer & Kaiser, 2005; Tippets, 2010; Bautista-Maldonado & Montrul, 2019), considerable DOM variation exists when observed in actual usage. For example, in some communities, DOM is extending to inanimate objects, as in Juan ve al programa ‘Juan sees DOM the TV show’. In others, DOM is retracting and is being omitted with animate objects, as in Juan ve María ‘Juan sees María’. The aim of this dissertation is to understand the sources of these variations by analyzing Mexican Spanish, a dialect that has been shown to extend DOM to inanimate objects (e.g. von Heusinguer & Kaiser, 2005), and Spanish of the U.S., which appears to be omitting DOM with animate objects (Montrul & Sánchez-Walker, 2013). DOM variation has mostly been studied from a sociolinguistic perspective by analyzing speakers’ oral or written production. While informative, production cannot reveal everything. This dissertation aims to study DOM variation from a multidisciplinary perspective with the use of experimental tasks. Few studies on language variation have implemented a psycholinguistic methodology. Therefore, little is known about the way in which language variation is cognitively represented. In this dissertation, a group of monolingual native speakers from Mexico (N=32) and a group of Spanish-English bilinguals from the U.S., comprised of heritage speakers (N=35) and second language (L2) learners (N=42), completed four tasks. An oral narrative task and an oral elicitation task were used to analyze participants’ production of DOM. An acceptability judgment task (AJT) served to test subtle knowledge of DOM variation. Finally, a reading task with eye-tracking examined participant’s online comprehension. The reading task aimed to examine whether DOM variation is already part of participants’ performance. Sentences used in the AJT and the reading task with eye-tracking varied by the use or omission of DOM, the animacy of the object and the word order of the sentence (Montrul, 2013; Arechabaleta-Regulez, 2016; Jegerski & Sekerina, 2019). Results showed that DOM variation exists in Mexican Spanish; however, variation depended on the type of task and the type of sentence. For monolingual Mexican Spanish speakers, DOM extension was not observable in spontaneous oral production, but it manifested in participants’ judgments and especially in their processing mechanisms. Moreover, marked inanimate objects were more accepted in canonical word order sentences. This suggests that, with respect to language variation, processing and comprehension are affected early, whereas production is affected more gradually and slowly. Results also showed that DOM variation exists in the Spanish of the U.S. For bilingual speakers, variation depended on the type of task, the type of sentence and the type of bilingual. While heritage speakers showed more DOM omission in the AJT, L2 learners omitted DOM the most in the oral tasks. Moreover, DOM omission was less accepted with canonical word order sentences. Therefore, at least in the Spanish of the U.S., DOM variation seems to be closely related to speakers’ language experiences and practices.
Issue Date:2019-07-05
Rights Information:© 2019 Begoña Arechabaleta Regulez
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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