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Auteur: Juan THOMAS

The evolution of a pluricentric language in an immigrant context: some grammatical aspects of the Spanish in a Small, Upstate NY City

Abstract/Résumé: Even though Spanish is a minority language in the U.S., its number of Spanish-speakers ranks it among the top 5 Spanish-speaking countries in the world. Given the dominance of English, even the existence of U.S. Spanish is questioned, which might be considered a set of isolated, migrant varieties on the verge of extinction. The 2010 Census shows huge growth in Hispanic population in non-metropolitan areas. Spanish-speakers in Oneida County, a mostly rural county in central New York State, have increased from 1271 individuals in 1970 to 7940 in 2010; 10.5 % of the county's largest city, Utica, is Hispanic. It would be useful to study what the Spanish is like in smaller, rural areas such as Oneida County. The objective of this investigation was to study 4 aspects of the grammar of Utica Spanish: code-switching, subject pronoun expression, nominal possession, and its verbal system, especially focusing on the latter. Sixteen Spanish-English bilinguals from Utica produced 7611 verbal forms during 10.5 hours of interviews. The forms were coded into a total of 19 tense-aspect-mood categories along with the speaker's gender, generation, age, education level, time in the U.S. and Utica, and type of Spanish. The rank order of the frequency of verbal forms in Utica Spanish was compared to that of Pousada and Poplack's (1982) hierarchy for Puerto Rican Spanish in East Harlem, Spearman's r= .95. One-way ANOVA tests showed that only time in the U.S. showed statistically significant differences and only the preterit and present indicative were affected. Speakers who had spent more time in the U.S. favored the use of the preterit and those who had been in the U.S. less time favored the use of the present indicative. This variation is not relatied to lack of acquisition but rather to the time frame of the speaker's narration. The use of gerunds and participles showed differences related to years in Utica and education level, respectively. The Utica data is also compared qualitatively to that of other studies of U.S. Spanish. The quantitative and qualitative similarities of the Utica data with other U.S. Spanish-speaking communities show that Utica Spanish is not an isolated, migrant variety, but that it shares linguistic parameters and uses with those other communities.