Rena Torres Cacoullos
Rena Torres Cacoullos is Professor of Spanish and Linguistics. Her work is from a variationist usage-based perspective, based on the quantitative analysis of natural language production data, spoken and written, in varieties of Spanish, English, and Greek. She serves as editor of Language Variation and Change. Her work on bilingual code-switching has been funded by the National Science Foundation.
Bilingualism in the Community: Code-switching and Grammars in Contact
Does the use of two languages by bilinguals inevitably bring about grammatical change? Does switching between languages serve as a catalyst in such change? It is widely held that linguistic code-switching inherently promotes grammatical convergence – languages becoming more similar to each other through contact; evidence for this, however, remains elusive. A model of how to study language contact scientifically, Bilingualism in the Community highlights variation patterns in speech, using a new bilingual corpus of English and Spanish spontaneously produced by the same speakers. Putting forward quantitative diagnostics of grammatical similarity, it shows how bilinguals’ two languages differ from each other, aligning with their respective monolingual benchmarks. The authors argue that grammatical change through contact is far from a foregone conclusion in bilingual communities, where speakers are adept at keeping their languages together, yet separate. The book is compelling reading for anyone interested in bilingualism and its importance in society.
International Journal of Bilingualism, Special Issue: Gauging convergence on the ground: Code-switching in the community
Linguistic Variation: Confronting Fact and Theory
Linguistic Variation: Confronting Fact and Theory honors Shana Poplack in bringing together contributions from leading scholars in language variation and change. The book demonstrates how variationist methodology can be applied to the study of linguistic structures and processes. It introduces readers to variation theory, while also providing an overview of current debates on the linguistic, cognitive and sociocultural factors involved in linguistic patterning. With its coverage of a diverse range of language varieties and linguistic problems, this book offers new quantitative analyses of actual language production and processing from both top experts and emerging scholars, and presents students and practitioners with theoretical frameworks to meaningfully engage in accountable research practice.
Grammaticization, Synchronic Variation, and Language Contact: A study of Spanish progressive -ndo constructions
This study of Old Spanish and present-day Mexico and New Mexico data develops a grammaticization account of variation in progressive constructions. Diachronic changes in cooccurrence patterns show that grammaticization involves reductive change driven by frequency increases. Formal reduction results in the emergence of auxilliary-plus-gerund sequences as fused units. Semantically, the constructions originate as spatial expressions; their grammaticization involves gradual loss of locative features of meaning. Semantic generalization among parallel evolutionary paths results in the competition among different constructions in the domain of progressive aspect. Patterns of synchronic variation follow from both the retention of meaning differences and the routinization of frequent collocations, as well as sociolinguistic factors. Register considerations turn out to be crucial in evaluating the effects of language contact. Purported changes in Spanish — English bilingual varieties are largely a feature of oral, informal language rather than a manifestation of convergence.