¿Cómo está el Pablo?: Examining definite article use with personal proper names in three regional varieties of Spanish

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2020-05

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Abstract

It is known that variation exists within the Spanish-speaking world regarding the realization of definite articles with personal proper names. However, there is a dearth of empirical information regarding the linguistic, social and pragmatic factors that constrain their use. With a few exceptions, no empirical analyses have been conducted examining this variable phenomenon in Spanish prior to the present study—only descriptive corpus analysis. The current mixed-methods comparative study aims to fill this gap, seeking to: (1) find what linguistic, social and pragmatic factors constrain the use of definite articles with personal proper names in Andalusia, Spain, Mexico, and Chile, and (2) discover what perceptions and attitudes exist with regard to this construction in those same regional dialectical communities.

The mixed methods included a mixed-effects logistic regression analysis in Rbrul based on PRESEEA corpus data of 43 participants; and discourse analysis from an online survey of 55 participants was performed following interactional sociolinguistics. The regression found that city, referent gender, and class were the best predictors for definite article use, and the qualitative survey found that in general, more positive attitudes are held in regions where definite article use is more frequent, and conversely more negative attitudes are held in regions where its usage is less frequent.

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Keywords

Definiteness, Definite articles, Variational pragmatics, Variationist sociolinguistics

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