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Testing Convergence: comparisons of structured variability

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Figure 1 Linguistic comparisons for a test of convergence in NM bilinguals

Subject pronoun expression has been considered a paradigmatic case for grammatical convergence in US Spanish, on the strength of reported higher rates. Here variation patterns are compared across each of the languages in contact (Figure 1). To assess  convergence, similarities due to cross-linguistic tendencies, such as accessibility effects, are distinguished from language-specific patterns, such as an initial-position prosodic constraint in English (Torres Cacoullos & Travis 2014, 2015a; Travis & Torres Cacoullos 2014). At this structural “conflict site” (Poplack & Meechan 1998), NM Spanish aligns with monolingual Spanish and not with English, ruling out convergence (Torres Cacoullos & Travis, 2015b).


Code-switching: Does it promote contact-induced change?

Systematic comparisons between the presence and absence of maximally proximate code-switching—the use of multi-word English sequences in the same or preceding clause (1)— show no effect for code-switching on neither the rate nor the constraints of Spanish subject pronoun expression (Torres Cacoullos & Travis 2010, 2011, 2015b).

(1)        Ivette   for a long time Ø lo hice asina.     "for a long time (I) did it like this." [06 El túnico, 0:50:00-0:50:02]


Priming and contextual distributions in bilingual speech 

Both within- and cross-language Coreferential Subject Priming obtains, such that preceding pronouns—Spanish yo and English I—favor a subsequent yo (Travis, Torres Cacoullos & Kidd, to appear). Thus, putative intrinsic code-switching effects may in fact be the result of particular priming effects, specifically, the occurrence of fewer unexpressed primes under proximate code-switching (Figure 2). This refutation of convergence via code-switching gives rise to the Contextual Distribution via code-switching hypothesis (Torres Cacoullos & Travis 2015b, to appear).

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Figure 2 Contextual distribution of primes according to maximally proximate code-switching