Item Details

Quotatives in English and Spanish among bilinguals

Issue: Vol 14 No. 1-2 (2020)

Journal: Sociolinguistic Studies

Subject Areas: Gender Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/sols.36731


This study analyzes the use of quotatives in recorded conversations in English and Spanish between nine pairs of young Spanish-English bilingual friends from Southern Arizona. A total of 1,304 tokens of quotatives from eighteen hours of recorded conversations (nine hours in each language) were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively according to content of the quote, tense, grammatical person, sex, and language dominance. The English quotative system of these young bilinguals was saturated with be like (78.68%, 620/788) while the preferred quotative in Spanish was decir (to say) (50%, 259/518), mirroring results of previous studies in both languages (Cameron, 1998; Holguín-Mendoza, 2015; Tagliamonte and D'Arcy, 2007). The remaining forms of quotatives in both languages were unpacked into eight distinct categories in English and ten different categories in Spanish. While both be like in English and decir 'to say' in Spanish favored introducing reported speech, the more innovative strategies of direct quotation in both languages appear to favor introducing internal monologue. Language contact in the speech of the bilingual participants does not radically influence the use of quotatives in both languages since only a few tokens of decir in English (0.38% 3/788) and be like in Spanish (5.21%, 27/518) were documented. 

Author: Joseph Kern

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