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The social conditioning of mood variation in the Spanish of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Issue: Vol 8 No. 1 (2014) The Influence of English on U.S. Spanish

Journal: Sociolinguistic Studies

Subject Areas: Gender Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/sols.v8i1.111


Prescriptive grammars of Spanish claim that inflectional markers of the subjunctive are required for subordinate clause verbs provided that: 1) this clause is introduced by the complementizer que ‘that’ and 2) the matrix clause construction corresponds to one of several semantic notions, such as the expression of finality, personal commentary, volition, or uncertainty. Actual speech data, however, reveal that speakers variably use indicative and subjunctive mood forms in these contexts. In an attempt to account for variation in the use of mood, many theorists have claimed that use of the subjunctive is also determined by pragmatic factors related to a speaker’s knowledge of and/or commitment to the speech proposition. Unfortunately, since these factors are difficult to measure quantitatively, claims of this nature tend to be highly speculative. Given the limitations of previous analyses, this presentation will focus on the role of social factors (such as age, sex, language preference, and educational experience) on the conditioning of mood variation. Due to the bilingual nature of the speech community in Albuquerque, the grammatical distinction between indicative and subjunctive forms is slowly being lost, especially among English-dominant speakers who have never studied Spanish formally. The influence of English, which has all but lost morphological markers of mood in casual speech, may be serving to accelerate the loss of mood distinctions that is already taking place in monolingual varieties of Spanish.

Author: Mark Waltermire

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