Article published in:Spanish Language and Sociolinguistic Analysis
Edited by Sandro Sessarego and Fernando Tejedo-Herrero
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 8] 2016
► pp. 155–176
Children’s Spanish subject pronoun expression
A developmental change in tú?
This study explores children’s acquisition of structured morphosyntactic variation by examining Spanish subject pronoun expression. Analyses of 5,923 verbs produced by 154 Mexican children, ages 6 to 16, show that the variables that most strongly constrain the oldest children’s pronoun usage – Person, Reference, Priming – are acquired first during childhood. These variables exert similar effects across age, with the exception of second-person singular, which favors tú expression among younger children and tú omission among older children. The developmental trajectory from more to less tú expression is explained as the result of (a) increasing production of nonspecific reference, which in turn decreases rates of tú, and (b) abundant reported speech in the younger children’s data, which rendered tú expression pragmatically appropriate.
Keywords: child language development, nonspecific reference, politeness, Spanish subject pronouns, variation in child language
Published online: 25 May 2016
(2010) Subject pronoun expression in bilinguals of two null subject languages. In K. Arregi, Z. Fagyal, S. Montrul, & A. Tremblay (Eds.), Romance Linguistics 2008: Interactions in Romance: Selected papers from the 38th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL) (pp. 9-22). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Bayley, R., & Pease-Álvarez, L.
Brown, R.W., & Bellugi, U.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S.
Carvalho, A., Orozco, R., & Shin, N.L.
Lastra, Y., & Martín Butragueño, P.
Otheguy, R., & Zentella, A.C.
Otheguy, R, Zentella, A.C., & Livert, D.
Raña Risso, Rocío
(2015) Acquiring patterns of morphosyntactic variation: Children’s Spanish subject pronoun expression. Journal of Child Language. Retrieved from: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9883308&fileId=S0305000915000380
Shin, N.L., & Erker, D.
Shin, N.L., & Otheguy, R.
Torres Cacoullos, R., & Travis, C.E.
(2013) On the role of children’s deterministic learning in the ‘no-overt-subject’ stage in the L1 acquisition of Spanish. In C. Cathcart, I-H. Chen, G. Finley, S. Kang, C.S. Sandy, & E. Stickles (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (pp. 375-388). Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.