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Social class and gender impacting change in bilingual settings: Spanish subject pronoun use in New York

  • Naomi Lapidus Shin (a1) and Ricardo Otheguy (a2)

This study examines the role of social class and gender in an ongoing change in Spanish spoken in New York City (NYC). The change, which has to do with increasing use of Spanish subject pronouns, is correlated with increased exposure to life in NYC and to English. Our investigation of six different national-origin groups shows a connection between affluence and change: the most affluent Latino groups undergo the most increase in pronoun use, while the least affluent undergo no change. This pattern is explained as further indication that resistance to linguistic change is more pronounced in poorer communities as a result of denser social networks. In addition we find a women effect: immigrant women lead men in the increasing use of pronouns. We argue that the women effect in bilingual settings warrants a reevaluation of existing explanations of women as leaders of linguistic change. (Language change, social class, gender, bilingualism, Spanish in the US, pronouns)*

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