In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

FUNCTIONAL COMPENSATION FOR /s/ DELETION IN PUERTO RICAN SPANISH Judith G. Hochberg Stanford University The role offunctional processes in language is examined in the context ofan empirical study of IsI deletion in Puerto Rican Spanish. Deletion of /s/ from 2sg. verb forms is shown to result in exceptionally high use of subject pronouns, especially with those verb forms rendered ambiguous by /s/deletion. These findings are shown to fit in with a general tendency in Puerto Rican Spanish to use pronouns functionally as well as stylistically.* Introduction 1. The term 'functional' has a broad range of meanings in linguistics. On the one hand, several theories of linguistic structure—notably the Lexical Functional Grammar of Bresnan 1982 and the Functional Grammar of Dik 1981— use it to refer to grammatical functions, such as Subject or Object. On the other hand, the term describes approaches to language that explicitly relate linguistic structure and behavior to communication. This paper offers a functional description , in the latter sense of the word, of patterns of subject pronoun usage in Puerto Rican Spanish. The specific functional framework adopted here is the 'Distinctiveness Condition ' of Kiparsky (1982:87): 'there is a tendency for semantically relevant information to be retained in surface structure.' Kiparsky's examination of functional process details several cases where synchronic or diachronic phonological processes are constrained or compensated for in order to preserve information content, usually at the morphological level. A classic synchronic example which he cites comes from Black English: Labov et al. 1968 found that teen-age speakers constrained deletion offinal /t d/ when these functioned as past tense markers—especially if they constituted the sole mark of the past tense, i.e. in forms like passed, as opposed to the more redundantly marked kept. A diachronic example of functional compensation in French is offered by Eckert (ms). She finds that, in the area of Southern France affected both by deletion ofplural /-s/ and by a change offeminine /-a/ to l-ol, speakers restrict the latter change to singular forms; thus they create a new opposition between fern. sg. l-ol and pi. /-a/, replacing the old opposition of /-a/ and /-as/. * This work was supported in part by National Institute ofChild Health and Human Development grant no. 1-R01-HD18908. 1 am indebted to George N. Clements, John R. Rickford, and Elizabeth Traugott for invaluable assistance. I would also like to give thanks to Peter Austin, Paola Bentivoglio , Henrietta Cedergren, Eve V. Clark, Charles Ferguson, Gregory Guy, Jeffrey Heath, Paul Kiparsky, Tony Kroch, William Labov, Barbara Lafford, Amparo Morales, Shana Poplack, Kurt Queller, Carmen Silva-Corvalán, and Tracy Terrell for many helpful comments and suggestions; to Catherine Snow and Ewert Thomas for help with statistics; and to Magali Rivera, the administrations of La Casa del Sol and the Cardinal Cushing School in Boston—and especially my ten native speakers—for their essential role in this work. An earlier version was presented as Hochberg 1983. 609 610LANGUAGE, VOLUME 62, NUMBER 3 (1986) Puerto Rican Spanish (henceforth PRS) provides an ideal testing ground for the power of functional explanation in the Kiparskyan sense. In PRS, as in many other dialects, final /s/ is variably aspirated and deleted among all social classes. The importance of such deletion in Spanish lies in the crucial morphological role which /s/ plays: in the NP, it marks the plural on articles, adjectives and nouns, while in the VP, it marks the 2sg. form. In Andalusian Spanish, aspiration of Is/ has been claimed to correlate with a variety of phonetic effects: opening or lengthening of a preceding vowel, lengthening or devoicing of a following consonant, or a combination of these (Alonso et al. 1950, Alvar 1955, 1956, Alvar et al. 1970, Lapesa 1980, NavarroTom ás 1939, Zamora Vicente 1970). When an /s/ is deleted in Andalusian, the meaning it conveyed is retained by the phonetic effect: thus, instead of the contrast comes/come 'you (familiar/polite) eat' or libros/libro 'books/book', one has the contrast come/come or librçllibro (where /e ç/ indicate more open vowels). This is not the case in PRS. Although Navarro-Tomás 1948 and Matluck 1961 observed the same kind ofphonetic compensation...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 609-621
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.