Discourse-pragmatic features in English and Spanish among bilinguals
A great amount of sociolinguistic research in contact situations has centered on phonological and morphosyntactic variables, but studies of discourse-pragmatic features in contact situations are scarce and incipient. Discourse-pragmatic features are syntactically optional elements that are used to guide, structure, or express a stance towards discourse (Pichler, 2013, p. 4). These features are hallmarks of grammaticalization because of their decategorialization to fulfill pragmatic functions (Brinton, 2006; Traugott, 1995). Their analysis in language contact situations can shed light on contact-induced change, since they occur on the periphery of grammar and appear to constitute a part of grammar that is highly permeable (e.g. Brody, 1987; 1995; Dajko & Carmichael, 2014). Previous studies of discourse-pragmatic features in contact situations widely focus on a recipient language in which discourse-pragmatic features from a donor language are inserted or calqued (e.g. Lipski, 2005; Salmons, 1990; Torres, 2002), without considering the linguistic and social conditioning of these features in the donor language, which is crucial to assess the permeability of discourse.
This dissertation assesses the permeability of discourse in the speech of eighteen Spanish-English bilinguals from Southern Arizona. In doing so, it analyzes the linguistic and social conditioning of three discourse-pragmatic features that are prominent in both languages. These discourse-pragmatic features include the discourse marker like in English and its equivalents como, como que, and like in Spanish, quotatives, and general extenders. It was expected that these discourse-pragmatic features would be highly permeable in the speech of these bilinguals; however, contact with English did not radically influence the use of any of these discourse-pragmatic features in the Spanish of these bilinguals. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of the permeability of discourse in bilingual speech. In addition, it explores how this knowledge can be applied in pedagogical contexts.