Null-subject encounter: Variable subject pronoun expression in the Spanish of Quechua-Spanish bilinguals in the Central Peruvian Andes

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6 Scopus citations


Objectives and Research Questions: This study explores the effects of bilingualism on the production of subject personal pronouns (SPPs) in speakers of two null-subject languages, Quechua and Spanish. The paper also seeks to determine if these effects can be explained by general bilingual accounts, such as the Interface Hypothesis (IH), or by contact-specific accounts. Methodology: This is a sociolinguistic variationist study; therefore, the data were collected with sociolinguistic interviews. Data and Analysis: The data consist of transcriptions of audio recordings of eight Spanish monolingual and eight Quechua-Spanish bilingual speakers of Huancayo (Peru). The data were analyzed by using the statistical software SPSS 23.0 and Goldvarb X. Findings: The IH predicts that the overt SPP rate of the bilinguals should be higher than that of the monolinguals and that the pragmatic switch reference constraint should be difficult for the Quechua first language speakers to master. The results show, however, that their rates are similar, and that switch reference was the most robust predictor for the bilinguals. This study’s results suggest that indirect transfer from the mandatory Quechua switch reference subordinating particle –pti is taking place. Originality: This is one of the first variationist studies examining the IH predictions regarding SPP production in bilinguals speaking an indigenous American null-subject language alongside Spanish. In addition, this is the first study to show, through statistical analyses, the contact-specific effect the other language can exert on a particular constraint in the subject pronoun expression of the bilinguals. Significance: The results of the study suggest that even subtle transfer in situations of language contact can be accurately explained by contact-specific accounts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 1 2018


  • Andean Spanish
  • Interface Hypothesis
  • language contact
  • Quechua
  • subject expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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