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Title:From deference to face: the evolution of usted in Costa Rican Spanish
Author(s):Cabal-Jiménez, Munia
Director of Research:Escobar, Anna Maria
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Escobar, Anna Maria
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Pandharipande, Rajeshwari V.; Golato, Andrea; Terkourafi, Marina; Hualde, José Ignacio
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Second person pronouns
Costa Rica
Politeness, History of Spanish
History of Spanish
Abstract:This study analyzes the evolution of the second person singular address pronouns in Costa Rican Spanish, from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The analysis is built around two time periods, the first from the 16th to the 18th centuries and the second period covers the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. The analysis is made using as resource material letters, administrative and personal, and excerpts taken from manuscripts (trails, family letters). This material is available in Costa Rican, Central American and Spanish archives, public and private. Excerpts found in historical publications were also used. The analysis is based on forty nine letters and excerpts of manuscripts from the period described. It is an analysis of qualitative nature given the characteristics and quantity of the sources. The study is made following the analysis of internal and external variables. The internal, linguistic variables considered for this study are subject, verb, indirect and direct object, determiners and prepositional complements. During the analysis all variables were analyzed. For the qualitative analysis, subject and verbs are the more relevant forms. As external variables, factors such as gender, type of relationship and century were considered. In the quantitave analysis, variables such as gender and type of relationship were combined in order to provide a more accurate representation about how the covariation takes place. The distinction between individuals that were related or not was also incorporated in the analysis. This division proved to be useful in determining if belonging to the same family could play a role in the shifting of the pronouns or not. This dissertation deals with the evolution of the address form system at various levels. From one part, it deals with the explanation of a system with more than two pronouns; usually former and current varieties of Spanish have just two second person singular pronouns. It is not the case for Colonial Costa Rican Spanish which already at the beginning of the colonial period showed a very complex structure (Quesada, 2005) with tú, vos and usted (< Vuestra Merced) being used at written level. Colonial Costa Rican Spanish, due to the complexity of the address forms, has been considered a system with chaos. Through a careful analysis of the texts it is determined that chaos is not present. Quite the opposite, the second person address form system is clearly structured, and it was possible to define, according to the type of texts and analysis of the linguistic variables under consideration. A relevant linguistic factor in the analysis was the type of verbs, more precisely, the type of verbs (behabitive, exercitive, etc) employed during the speech acts uttered by writer/speakers. In addition, in determining the causes that condition the covariation, this dissertation also analyzes the evolution of one pronoun in particular: usted. The analysis of this pronoun is also divided in to two periods. The first period, from the 16th to the 18th century, focuses on the grammaticalization of the pronoun from Vuestra Merced to the pronoun usted; the contexts in which usted is used are also identified. Uses of usted are also defined in terms of which use corresponds to, what has been labeled in this study, as usted 1, which is the usted used by the speaker to establish some distance in regard to the addresse. Uses of usted as usted 2 ( to come closer to the reader/hearer) were also found. These uses were determined by taking into account the notion of face. Taking this notion as the base of the conceptual definition of the pronoun usted, and leaving behind the previous concept of deferentiality (and non-deferentiality), this dissertation proposes a new classification. Instead of the deferential usted and the non- deferential usted, the terms withdrawal and approach are proposed since they refer more clearly to what the speaker does in the communicative exchange, and it signals more clearly the pragmatic conditions of the interaction. The second period analyzes the pragmaticalization of this pronoun. Emphasis is given on the impact of sociohistorical factors in linguistic change (Weinrich et al., 1968, Escobar, 2007) and also incorporates the perspectives of politeness and pragmatics (Terkourafi, 2005; Brown and Levinson, 1978, 1987). The pragmatic exploitations observed throughout the first period become established in the language through the use of one meaning or the other in very specific contexts. These contents expressed through the different types of verbs and also in narrow relationship with the notion of face, become variants within the discourse. The pronoun usted sees its meaning expanded and covering more functions than in the previous period. The contexts in which usted 1 and usted 2 appear also undergo change and thus it is possible to see why and how it is that there are two usted, one in each axis of possible communication with the addressee: withdrawal or approach, respectively. By finding which contexts determined the expansion of the usted and consequently its semantic expansion, at least with regard to Colonial Costa Rican Spanish, an answer to a very long debate is provided (Vargas, 1974; Vega-González, 2005; Quesada, 2005). The study was carried out using different theoretical frameworks. Variation is analyzed in this research in regard to second person singular forms. Historical sociolinguistic analysis is employed in order to understand how strong networks vs. weak networks in societies can hinder or trigger language change. The analysis of Politeness theory and pragmatics brought concepts related to face, face threatening acts, speech acts of withdrawal vs. approach, theoretical concepts that facilitated the linguistic analysis. Also, notions such as Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft, taken from sociological studies and applied to language (Terkourafi, 2005; Brown and Levinson, 1978,1987) contributed to understanding of how social dynamics and social flux are mirrored in language. All the linguistic analysis is also connected with historical factors. The socio-economic development of Costa Rica provided the necessary historical framework to understand how the history and the economic development experienced by Costa Rican society triggered the covariation of the pronouns and provided the necessary conditions for the expansion of the functions and meaning of the pronoun usted. Understanding of this socioeconomic and historical background made it possible to follow the evolution of Colonial Costa Rican Spanish as part of the transition of this society into agrarian capitalism. With this dissertation, the goal is to contribute decisively to the understanding of the variation and evolution of the second person address form systems in Spanish, particularly to offer in the field of Spanish Linguistics a first approach in explaining the new function and meanings of the pronoun usted.
Issue Date:2013-05-28
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Munia Cabal-Jiménez
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-28
Date Deposited:2013-05

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