The Diminishing Value of the Simple-Present Tense in Spanish among Spanish-English Bilinguals Living in the United States
Description: Language change is constant due to varied linguistic and sociolinguistic factors. Specifically, prolonged situations of language in contact have been observed to have a direct influence on language change and variation. Previous studies have documented several changes that may occur within bilingual speech communities in sustained circumstances of language in contact. This study examines the possibility of attrition of the simple present form of Spanish in bilingual speakers of Spanish and English due to prolonged interaction between the two languages. Specifically, it attempts to determine whether the value of the Spanish simple present tense diminishes, and the present progressive form gains prominence as a result of language transfer occurring where there is intensive contact between Spanish and English. In order to determine that this linguistic phenomenon has occurred in bilingual speech communities, data were collected and analyzed from bilingual Spanish and English speakers living in the United States. To demonstrate bilingual speakers' use of the simple and progressive present forms, participants were instructed to complete two tasks: 1) a background questionnaire designed to gather information regarding each participants' relationship with the Spanish language, and 2) a picture-narration task designed to reveal each bilingual's preference for the simple present or progressive form. The study intended to show that in prolonged situations of language in contact between Spanish and English the bilingual speaker without little or no formal education in Spanish would transfer features from the dominant language (English) to the minority language (Spanish) in an attempt to cope with the task of working in two different linguistic systems. The results of the written-narrative task show that bilingual participants did demonstrate support for the use of the progressive rather than the simple-present form of the present tense when referring to actions perceived as ongoing or continuous among all three groups of participants. ...
Date: May 2018
Creator: Wooten, Lisa Renee