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Title:Exploring the confluence of confianza and national identity in Honduran voseo: a sociopragmatic analysis
Author(s):Melgares Sabillon, Jeriel Jozavith
Director of Research:Escobar, Anna M; Terkourafi, Marina
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Escobar, Anna M
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bhatt, Rakesh M; Bokamba, Eyamba
Department / Program:Spanish and Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Honduran Spanish
Forms of address
National identity

Pronominal address
Language change
Address variation
Cambio lingüístico
Formas de tratamiento
Español hondureño
Identidad nacional
Variación lingüística
Abstract:This dissertation explores the dynamics of language variation and the process of language change from a Speaker-based approach (cp. Weinreich, Labov, & Herzog, 1968) through the analysis of a linguistic feature that has received much scholarly attention, namely, Spanish pronominal forms of address (see PRESEEA project), in an understudied variety: Honduran Spanish. Previous studies, as sparse as they are, have proposed that the system of singular forms in this variety comprises a set of three forms for familiar/informal address—vos, tú, and usted—and a sole polite/formal form, usted (Castro, 2000; Hernández Torres, 2013; Melgares, 2014). In order to empirically explore this system and detect any changes in progress within it, a model typical of address research in Spanish was adopted by examining pronoun use between interlocutors in specific types of relationships (e.g. parent-child or between friends). This investigation, however, takes this model further by also analyzing the attitudes Honduran speakers exhibit toward the forms in connection to their Honduran identity, while adopting Billig’s (1995) theory of ‘banal nationalism’—the (re)production of national identity through daily social practices—, and as a corollary, their spontaneous pronoun production, following Terkourafi’s (2001; 2004) frame-based approach. Thereupon, this dissertation goes beyond the typical model of describing the innovative form as more frequent in specific types of interactions (once dominated by another form) by delving into how language variation leads to change as it is taking place in the everyday interactions of speakers, guided by pressures of discourse, societal structure, and identity reproduction, thus, providing a richer picture of the language change process. With the main goal of explaining the prevalence of vos in Honduran Spanish—provided that the general tendency in the language is the expansion of tú (e.g. Fox, 1969; Lastra de Suárez, 1972; Millán, 2011; Penny, 1991) and that tú is prescriptively promulgated as the ‘proper/correct’ form and not vos by the Honduran education system and religion—, this investigation was carefully designed by integrating a methodology typical of address research (cp. PRESEEA) with both quantitative and qualitative techniques informed by various subfields of linguistics, including variationist sociolinguistics, politeness research, and sociocultural linguistics. Accordingly, data were gathered through two main research tasks, a written sociolinguistic questionnaire and group semi-directed interviews, from a sample of native speakers of the urban variety of Honduran Spanish. Collected data from the sociolinguistic questionnaire were analyzed inferentially through a combination of Chi-squared and Fisher’s exact tests, and a logistic regression in R. Attitudinal and naturalistic data were analyzed qualitatively by organizing them into themes (i.e. Thematic Analysis: King & Horrocks, 2010) and by examining spontaneous pronoun use in relation to the extralinguistic features of the interactions (Terkourafi, 2001; 2004). Results from the qualitative analysis of the interview data revealed that vos is widely accepted as the norm and that no social stigma is associated with it, as it is used in everyday interactions under the level of conscious awareness, that is, banally reproducing Honduran national identity. What is unacceptable is the use of tú, which is ascribed to a foreign identity; thus, any use of tú by Honduran speakers is perceived as either spurious or performance of foreignness. Usted is as acceptable as vos is, mainly utilized to express distance, deference, or respect. Furthermore, it was shown that vos can be actively manipulated in interaction to portray non-conservative identity, and likewise, usted can be manipulated to portray conservative identity. These findings were supported by the results of the quantitative analysis, which provide conclusive evidence that certain extralinguistic factors mediate pronoun selection, including, gender match between speaker and addressee (although no independent gender of speaker or of addressee effects were detected), age of speaker and of addressee, and degree of confianza between interlocutors, in addition to other features particular to the interactional context, such as the presence of third parties and the setting. Consequently, the statistically significant preference of vos by younger generations in conjunction with its acceptance as the norm and with its function as a marker of national identity evidence the socially unobstructed change in the pronominal system of Honduran Spanish as vos becomes even more greatly rooted in the Honduran way of life. This change appears to have originated in the family context, specifically in parent-child relationships, where a high degree of confianza (i.e. profound confianza) is shared, but also seems to affect relationships inside and outside of the family domain in which moderate confianza (i.e. superficial confianza) is shared—where it is expressed through reciprocal vos among younger interlocutors but through reciprocal usted among older interlocutors. In sum, these findings demonstrate that vos has prevailed in Honduran Spanish since its first attestations in the region during Colonial times as it has developed into a banal symbol of Honduran national identity.
Issue Date:2017-07-12
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Jeriel Melgares Sabillon
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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