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BILINGUALISM AND LANGUAGE CHANGE: THE EXTENSION OF ESTAR IN LOS ANGELES SPANISH Carmen Silva-Corvalán University of Southern California Among the important issues dealt with in studies of languages in contact have been the universality of the linguistic processes characteristic of these situations, and the role that a primary language may play in the shaping of the secondary language—as against the possibility of autonomous developments constrained by the linguistic system of the latter. This paper addresses these issues through an examination ofthe extension oíestar in the speech of 27 bilinguals who represent different generations and degrees of Spanish language loss. It focuses mainly on three questions: (a) the path followed by the innovation ; (b) the possible changes in the meaning of the form; and (c) the effect of bilingualism on the actuation of the change. The major results of the study are that language contact tends to accelerate internally motivated changes in the system of the less-used language; that direct influence from English is difficult to posit; and that syntactic/semantic changes proceed step by step, in a manner reminiscent of the lexical diffusion of phonological change.* 1. Introduction. It is well known that, in situations of extended and prolonged language contact—i.e. when large groups of speakers are bi- or multilingual —the languages involved in the contact situation tend to adopt features from one another. This kind of linguistic interference or transfer may occur at any level of the linguistic system (phonological, morphological, lexical, syntactic , or semantic), and may be either temporary or stable. Long and sustained contact may cause more or less radical changes in the system ofthe subordinate language,1 i.e. the language used in a narrower range of social contexts. However , when the variety of a language used in a situation of intensive contact (frequently also in a community undergoing language shift) is compared with a basically monolingual variety of the same language, used as the medium of instruction, the observed changes have been seen variously as resulting from * Research for this paper has been made possible by grant no. BNS-8214733 from the National Science Foundation. Contact with two very friendly Mexican-American communities was facilitated by my graduate students Dora Antillón and Consuelo Sigüenza. I would also like to acknowledge the help of numerous friends made while conducting the fieldwork for the present study—in particular, the Campa, Ortiz, Jiménez, Cruz, Ramos, Ibaven, Pérez, Martínez, Ortega, and Ayala families. Thanks also go to the graduate students and Chilean friends who filled out questionnaires and lent me their intuitions about serlestar. I have benefited from comments made on earlier and shorter versions ofthis paper by a number of participants at three symposia (El Español en los Estados Unidos V, University of Illinois, Chicago; ALFAL, Dominican Republic; and NWAVE XIII, University of Pennsylvania. For encouragement , suggestions, and criticism, I would like to thank Dwight Bolinger, Susan Gal, Jane H. Hill, Jürgen Meisel, Roger Wright—and, in particular, Erica Garcia, Flora Klein, and Yakov Malkiel, who offered detailed and very helpful comments on both content and style. Errors and shortcomings are entirely my own. 1 Also, ofcourse, in the system ofthe superordinate language—a possibility I prefer to disregard here·587 588LANGUAGE, VOLUME 62, NUMBER 3 (1986) (a) transfer from the superordinate language, (b) grammatical convergence of the languages involved, and/or (c) autonomous language changes (cf. Dorian 1981, Gal 1984, Gumperz & Wilson 1977, Klein 1980, 1982, Lavandera 1978, Weinreich 1953). In recent years, increasing attention has been focused on pidgins and creóles, on the acquisition of first and second languages, and on the loss of language as a result of language shift. Among the important theoretical issues discussed by those involved in these studies has been the role that a model, primary, or superordinate language may play in the shaping of the developing, secondary, or subordinate language—as against the reverse possibility of autonomous developments constrained by linguistic universals and/or human cognitive processes. For our present purposes, the results of studies of language death and language loss are of particular interest. On the whole, studies of dying languages (Dorian 1973, 1978...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 587-608
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
N
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