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Review of  Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium


Reviewer: Dalia Magana
Book Title: Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
Book Author: Joseph Collentine MaryEllen Garcia Barbara A. Lafford Francisco Marcos Marín
Publisher: Cascadilla Press
Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
Semantics
Syntax
Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Book Announcement: 21.2070

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Review:
EDITORS: Collentine, Joseph; García, Maryellen; Lafford, Barbara A.; Marín,
Francisco Marcos
TITLE: Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
PUBLISHER: Cascadilla Press
YEAR: 2009

Dalia Magaña, Department of Spanish, University of California, Davis

SUMMARY

The volume reviewed consists of selected papers presented at the 11th Hispanic
Linguistics Symposium held at the University of Texas at San Antonio in November
2007. Along with two plenary papers in general linguistics the volume covers the
following areas: language acquisition, phonology, syntax and semantics.

In the first plenary paper, ''Literary Linguistics in the Context of a Literature
Department'', Milton M. Azevedo raises queries common to researchers in Hispanic
linguistics and discusses the research possibilities afforded in the area.
Azevedo addresses obstacles faced by researchers in Hispanic Linguistics
including their traditionally perceived role in language departments as
pedagogues and administrators ideal for departmental language coordinating. The
unfortunate consequence of solely perceiving applied linguists as pedagogues
compromises their roles as researchers. Further, the author discusses the
coexistence of the linguistics and literature disciplines in language
departments projecting ahead with possibilities for research combining both
areas. Drawing upon his experience in teaching linguistics courses to literature
students, the author discusses approaches available in linguistics for analyzing
literary texts by offering concrete examples of such interdisciplinary research
such as discourse analysis of literary texts. Of particular interest is that the
literary discourse examples in Azevedo's data are not examples found in formal
academic language spoken by educated speakers, but rather are characteristic of
informal casual speech spoken by diverse speakers. In the examples, the speakers
could be identified as either bilinguals or those whose languages are in contact
with another language and in some instances speak a stigmatized variety such as
Spanish/English code-switching, ''Fronterizo,'' and Italian influenced Brazilian
Portuguese. Therefore, Azevedo offers not only a perspective for
interdisciplinary research in linguistics and literature, but also suggests
research in language varieties not traditionally or sufficiently considered in
the literature.

In the second plenary paper ''Formal Linguistics and the Syntax of Spanish: Past,
Present and Future'' Margarita Suñer discusses trends in formal syntax, considers
the variation found in the Spanish clitic system, and concludes by offering a
comparison between Spanish language clitic-doubling and Germanic language
object-shift. In her discussion of object clitics the author compares four
clitic systems that vary morphologically with respect to clitic-doubling
(Normative Spanish, Madrid Spanish, Porteño, and Colloquial Quiteño). Next, in
her comparison across languages, Suñer notes that while Germanic languages share
similarities with Spanish with respect to object shift, these languages also
vary particularly concerning the more restricted distribution in both German and
Spanish. Finally, the author concludes with the advantages of comparative
studies across languages given the insights afforded in such an approach.

The first study in the acquisition section of the book, entitled ''Eventive and
Stative Passives: The Role of Transfer in the Acquisition of 'ser' and 'estar'
by German and English L1 Speakers'' by Joyce Bruhn de Garavito, empirically
explores the use of Spanish copulas ''ser'' and ''estar'' among ten native speakers,
twenty English speaking learners and nine German-speaking learners. The
methodologies included a Grammaticality Judgment Task and a Sentence Selection
Task. The author's hypothesis regarding the German-speaking participants
outperforming the English speakers in the passive use due to similarity with
German was not evidenced in the results of the study. The author concludes that
such lack of transfer from German to Spanish challenges the Full Transfer
Hypothesis.

An argument concerning transfer in language acquisition is also explored in
Timothy L. Face and Mandy R. Menke's study ''Acquisition of the Spanish Voiced
Spirants by Second Language Learners.'' In their acoustic analysis-based study,
the authors find that transfer from English orthographic ''b'' and ''v'' occurs
among different levels of Spanish learners/speakers: fourth semester Spanish
learners, fourth year Spanish majors, and Ph.D. second language Spanish
speakers. Within these groups, however, the authors found differences. Given
their comparison of these different stages of Spanish language level, the
authors showed a statistically significant progressive development among the
learners based on their acquisition of Spanish language spirantization.

The third study in language acquisition by J. César Féliz-Brasdefer and Erin
Lavin is entitled ''Grammar, Prosody and Turn Expansion in Second Language
Conversations.'' The study concerns Spanish language learners' use of grammatical
resources and prosodic cues in their natural interactions with native speakers
of Spanish in an informal context. The participants included eleven
English-speaking Spanish language learners at the intermediate level with a
range of Spanish language experience, and seven Spanish native speakers. Data
collection involved twenty to twenty-five minutes of natural conversation
regarding sensitive topics between the dyads composed of a Spanish language
learner and a Spanish language native speaker. The authors found that among the
grammatical resources employed, the learners utilized the increment initiator
''y'' (''and'') predominantly along with prosodic cues to maintain a flow in their
interactions.

In ''New Findings on Fluency Measures across Three Different Learning Contexts''
Lorenzo García-Amaya explores Spanish language fluency among twenty
English-speaking language learners subdivided according to their language
experience (study abroad and years of study) and five Spanish native speakers as
a control group. The data collection consisted of an extensive sociolinguistic
individual interview with the researcher guided by fifty-four questions. The
study probed the advantages of large speech samples. The results of the study
indicated that fluency correlated with study abroad experience and that there
was a statistical difference between the learners and native speakers among
other insightful findings.

In their study, ''The Acquisition of the Personal Preposition 'a' by
Catalan-Spanish and English-Spanish Bilinguals,'' Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes and
Theodoros Marinis compare the use of the personal preposition ''a'' between
sixteen English-speaking Spanish learners in the UK, eighteen Catalan-speaking
Spanish learners in Spain and sixteen Spanish monolinguals in Spain. The methods
consisted of a forty-eight sentence completion task eliciting the preposition
''a'' in six differing conditions. The results of the study revealed that residual
optionality (i.e. variants within an individual’s grammar) in acquisition of the
preposition ''a'' was present among the bilingual speakers. The study also found
that the language background regarding Catalan and English somewhat influenced
the acquisition of prepositional ''a''.

The following article, by Miren Hodgson, ''The Role of Object Movement in the
Acquisition of Telicity,'' examines telicity, ''a feature that must be checked in
the Specifier of Aspect Phrase via movement of the direct object'' (Hodgson
2009:93). The study probes the knowledge of covert and overt movement among
sixty elementary children in Spain and sixteen adults serving as a control
group. The findings of the study showed that children before the age of four
have telicity knowledge to the extent of controlling overt predicate movement as
in locatum structures (i.e. a structure that requires NP movement due to feature
checking); therefore, ''overt applications of movement within one linguistic
module do not pose a problem to [the] young learners'' (Hodgson 2009:101). In the
present study this was evidenced in their ability to assign adult-like
interpretation to locatum predicates. However, these young learners' knowledge
with respect to covert movement occurring in simple telic predicates requires
further acquisitional development since the data showed an apparent deficiency
in children's knowledge of structure.

James F. Lee and Paul A. Malovrh in their study ''Linguistics and Non-linguistic
Factors Affecting OVS Processing of Accusative and Dative Case Pronouns by
Advanced L2 Learners of Spanish'' explore the interpretation of OVS strings among
different levels of English-speaking Spanish learners. The fifty-two
participants consisted of third semester, fifth semester, and upper-division
learners comprising the four language levels. The authors found that the more
advanced learners processed OVS more accurately than the beginning learners.

In ''The L2 Acquisition of Null and Overt Spanish Subject Pronouns: A Pragmatic
Approach,'' by Margaret Lubbers Quesada and Sarah E. Blackwell, the authors
explore the use of Spanish first person singular employed with tensed verbs
among two groups: native Spanish speakers and Spanish language learners. The
data were collected from a database that included oral narratives produced by
native speakers from Mexico and from five different levels of learners. The
outcome of the study suggested that the participants' production of overt and
null subject pronouns in Spanish was systematic. Surprisingly, such was the case
for the learners since while overt subject pronouns were preferred, null
pronouns were produced in the contexts examined.

The study ''Child Acquisition and Language Change: 'Voseo' Evolution in Río de la
Plata'' by María Irene Moyna analyzes historic and contemporary data about the
use of the ''voseo'' in Río de la Plata. According to her data, ''voseo'' in Río de
la Plata does not significantly compete with other alternatives and displays
minimal internal variability. The findings of the study suggest that there
exists a correlation between children's development of ''voseo'' and shift from
''tuteo'' to ''voseo'' in Río de la Plata. The author concludes that simplicity is a
result of universal constraints in children's speech.

In ''The Effect of Dialect Familiarity via a Study Abroad Experience on L2
Comprehension of Spanish,'' Lauren Beth Schmidt examines the comprehension of
Dominican Spanish among eleven low-intermediate to near-native Spanish learners.
The participants completed various listening comprehension tasks twice: before
their three-week study abroad in the Dominican Republic and after the completion
of their study abroad. The results not only revealed that exposure to Dominican
Spanish affected the learner's task performance, but also that the learner's
comprehension of Standard Spanish improved.

The final study in the acquisition section, ''Subject Pronouns in Child Spanish
and Continuity of Reference,'' by Naomi Lapidus Shin and Helen Smith Cairns,
concerns monolingual Spanish-speakers' development of third person singular
subject pronouns with emphasis on the developmental relationship to Continuity
of Reference. In their experimental study, the authors explore adult and
children's pattern of preference of overt and null third person singular subject
pronouns. The findings reveal that the results support the interface hypothesis;
that is, the interface between syntax and other domains (such as discourse).
This claim is made given the later development among Spanish speaking
monolinguals of the syntax-discourse interface feature analyzed, Continuity, as
a predictor of preferences for overt and null third singular subject pronouns in
Spanish.

The first study in the phonology section, ''The Relative Importance of Lexical
Frequency in Syllable- and Word-Final /s/ Reduction in Cali, Colombia,'' by Earl
K. Brown discusses the patterns found in syllable- and word-final /s/ reduction
among Spanish native speakers from Cali, Colombia. The data collection relied on
informal spontaneous conversations provided by a previous study. Analysis of the
data consisted of a variationist methodology revealing that the reduction of /s/
word-internally, syllable-finally and (to a lesser extent) word-finally is
conditioned by the lexical frequency of the word.

In ''Perceptual Categorization of Dialect Variation in Spanish'' Manuel
Díaz-Campos and Inmaculada Navarro-Galisteo examine the interplay between
language experience and indexical properties of dialect variation in perceptual
categorization. The study's participants were fifty Spanish-speaking listeners,
including both males and females from Spain and Venezuela. The dialect
categorization task was composed of six different varieties of Spanish. Analysis
of the data echoed previous studies revealing the difficulty of accurately
identifying dialect variation. Overall, the Venezuelan participants performed
more accurately than the Spanish participants; furthermore, their combined
performance was above chance.

The next phonological study, ''Continuancy and Resonance in Spanish,'' by Carolina
González considers the features [sonorant] and [continuant] in Spanish. The
author proposes that continuancy and resonance in Spanish are the phonological
foundation in Spanish and that the features [sonorant] and [continuant] are
phonetically and phonologically linked. Additionally, González proposes that
these features are connected to Aperture degrees and suggests the incorporation
of a ''partial aperture'' to include groups with partial blocking of airflow such
as nasals and laterals.

The final phonology study, ''On the Current State of Vowel Intrusion Analysis in
Spanish within Optimality Theory,'' is by Benjamin Schmeiser. Using Optimality
Theory, the author examines the intrusive vowel (an epenthetic vowel, or schwa)
occurring in tautosyllabic environments. Based on his findings, Schmeiser
proposes that this intrusive vowel be further considered given its durational
variability found in the data. The study concludes with additional Optimality
Theory constraints that afford a more extensive analysis of the /Cɾ/ cluster in
Spanish.

The final category, Syntax and Semantics, comprises six articles. The first,
''Split Questions, Extended Projections and Dialect Variation'' by Jorge
López-Cortina, concerns the use of Split questions (constructions where whole
sentences are split into two parts) found in Asturian Spanish. The data
consisted of interviews and questionnaires. Based on his syntactic analysis, the
author suggests that since in split questions ''qué'' behaves as an adjunct, it
should be placed in the specifier position of an extended projection.
Additionally, López-Cortina argues that the Spanish adverb ''acaso'' behaves
similarly to ''qué'' with respect to adjunct character attribution. Finally, the
author concludes with further syntactic differences between ''wh-questions'' and
''qué.''

In ''A Constructionist Approach to Adjectival Interpretative Properties,'' Juan
Martín discusses three different adjectival positions in Spanish. The author
argues that the three adjectival positions in Spanish are: a pronominal position
dominated by the noun phrase containing an ''intensional interpretation;'' the
second, a postnominal position external to the noun phrase yet internal to the
determiner phrase that dominates the noun phrase; and the third, a ''postnominal
position external to the [determiner phrase] dominating the [noun phrase]''
(Martín, 2009: 240). Martín concludes that, “the traditional lexical differences
among adjectives are subsumed under the direct and indirect modification
distinction, and furthermore can be accounted for under a minimal compositional
theory with a simplified thematic theory” (Martín, 2009: 240).

Roberto Mayoral Hernández and Asier Alcázar analyze three sociolinguistic and
stylistic factors affecting the order of adverbials in ''Technological
Applications to Linguistic Research: A Corpus Analysis of Frequency Adverbials.''
The corpus-based analysis reveals that gender, language variety, and genre
influence the order of adverbials in the Latin American and Peninsular Spanish
speakers. According to the authors, gender was statistically significant in the
Latin American speakers with men favoring preverbal positions. The difference
between the Latin American Spanish speakers and the Peninsular Spanish speakers
with respect to the language variety factor was due to the results found among
the Latin American men in the study. Finally, the genre factor was found to be
statistically significant particularly among the Peninsular Spanish speakers.
Therefore, the study shows that sociolinguistic and stylistic factors such as a
gender, language variety and genre affect adverbial alternation.

In '''Mirá': From Verb to Discourse Particle in Rioplatense Spanish,'' Francisco
Ocampo performs a corpus concordance to analyze the use of ''mira'' (''tú form'')
and ''mirá'' (''voseo form'') dialectally and socially. The author's findings reveal
the evolution of the use of ''mira/mirá'' having undergone ''a process of
desemantization'' as previous studies proposed. Finally Ocampo suggests that
''mirá'' is predominantly employed with a discourse use and marginally conveys
meaning.

The final study ''Interfaz sintáctica-semántica en los objetos directos: el
español y el criollo haitiano'' by Luis A. Ortiz-López and Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes
analyzes the use of overt direct objects and null objects among children and
adults in a border region of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The participants
consisted of fifteen participants, five Haitians who were native Creole speakers
and Spanish learners (with interlanguage abilities), five Dominican-Haitian
bilinguals, and five monolingual Dominican Spanish speakers. While the study
found quantitative differences, it did not reveal any qualitative differences
among the observed groups. Specifically, the results suggest that lexical
objects are widely employed, overt direct objects are preferred over null direct
objects, and obligatory direct objects are rarely omitted. Overall, the authors
find that the presence or omission of direct objects is conditioned more by
semantically related internal factors ([+/- human]> [+/- animate] > [+/-
defined]> [+/- specific]) than by external factors (languages in contact and
degree of bilingualism).

EVALUATION

The present volume encompasses numerous topics in Hispanic linguistics from
three areas: language acquisition, phonology, and syntax and semantics. In its
entirety, the volume offers numerous original contributions and proposals
concerning several varieties of Spanish and employing a range of methodologies
and approaches. A trend revealed in the volume is the use of spontaneous
representative data in a significant number of the studies based on casual
informal language and corpora representative of authentic language.

A weakness in the volume is due to the lack of inclusion of studies based on
Spanish-English bilinguals, specifically heritage speakers, in the acquisition
section of the volume. While other fields in linguistics (such as
sociolinguistics and heritage language pedagogy) have offered significant
contributions to heritage language research, the field of heritage languages in
the U.S. bilingual context has lacked research stemming from traditional
linguistic perspectives. Therefore, the present volume would have been enriched
if studies based on heritage speakers in the U.S. had been included.

While a nominal amount of typographical errors are present in the volume, these
do not interfere with the overall comprehension and quality of the texts.

Overall the articles provide enriching findings for the field that will
undoubtedly afford researchers and students in the area fruitful insights
evoking additional future research.

REFERENCES

Hodgson, Miren. (2009). ''The Role of Object Movement in the Acquisition of
Telicity'' in Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium,
ed. Joseph Collentine et al., 93-104. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings
Project.

Martín, Juan. (2009). ''A Constructionist Approach to Adjectival Interpretative
Properties,'' in Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium,
ed. Joseph Collentine et al., 231-241. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings
Project.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Dalia Magaña is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish at University of California, Davis. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and heritage language pedagogy.

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