Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Expression of Possession in Spanish in Contact with English: A Sociolinguistic Study Across Two Generations in the Greater New York Metropolitan Area
by Montoya, Maria Cristina, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2011, 219; 3454774
Abstract (Summary)

This study analyzes possession as it is expressed grammatically in Spanish in contact with English among multidialectal Spanish speakers. The objective is to investigate the possibility of a change in progress in what pertains to this feature as observed across two generations of Hispanic speakers in New York: immigrant parents who have been in the U.S. for more than 20 years, and their young adult children who were born in the U.S.

After discussing relevant concepts in language contact and highlighting other studies carried out in the U.S. that add to the understanding of possession, the possessive grammatical category is explained in terms of its broader classification of attributive and predicative constructions in contexts of inalienable and alienable possession.

Quantitative analysis, using Goldvarb X, revealed that in inalienable contexts the first generation tended to restrict the use of the possessive adjective, whereas the second generation allowed it more frequently. This result supports the idea of an intergenerational language variation. In the case of alienable contexts, the results showed that the options are in competition in the speech of both groups. Therefore, I concluded that children raised bilingual use the possessive differently, according to the context of inalienable vs. alienable nouns. The important role that Spanish played within the different domains allowed the article to remain active in the possessive link.

In regards to predicative possession, the initial objective was to find if a possible expansion in the use of the verb tener could be observed in bilingual contexts. Results revealed that such an increase was not significant among participants who grew up bilingual, and that other Spanish possessive constructions were still active within their linguistic repertoire.

Among participants who have grown up bilingually, a variety of forms is observed and the use of the article determiner or the verb tener, as is expected in monolingual Spanish, still remains active within their linguistic repertoire. Therefore, in the case of the second generation speakers I conclude that the possessive construction, as it is expressed in English or Spanish, was acquired early while growing up bilingual and remained through their adulthood.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sayahi, Lotfi
Commitee: Fox, Cynthia, Westmoreland, Maurice
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Spanish
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Language
Keywords: Bilingualism, Language contact, Language variation, New York Metropolitan Area, Possession, Sociolinguistics, Spanish, Spanish possession, Urban language studies
Publication Number: 3454774
ISBN: 978-1-124-64748-7
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