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Variation in contemporary Spanish: Linguistic predictors of estar in four cases of language contact*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 November 2008

Indiana University
University of Plymouth
Address for correspondence: Kimberly L. Geeslin, Ballantine Hall 844, 1020 East Kirkwood, Bloomington, IN 47405-7103,


In some contact situations between Spanish and English there is an acceleration of the process of the extension of estar that may be due to lack of access to the formal written standard, features of English in particular or general processes of simplification that result from the cognitive demands of bilingualism (Silva-Corvalán, 1994). In our large-scale analysis of data from a contextualized preference task collected in four areas of the lberian Peninsula where Spanish is in contact with a regional language (Basque, Catalan, Galician and Valencian) and in monolingual regions of Spain, we identify differences in the numbers of unanimous responses, and frequency and predictors of estar selection across populations. We show that more frequent selection of estar is not a characteristic of all bilingual groups, and several linguistic predictors of estar are common to all groups. Additionally, we find that more frequent selection of estar occurs in some varieties even among bilinguals with ample access to the formal standard.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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We are very grateful for the funding of this project provided by the British Academy (No: SG- 40255). We also would like to express our gratitude to all participants and, in particular, Nuria Alturo Monne and her colleagues for their help in collecting the data in Barcelona; Immaculada Penadés Martínez, Luz Zas and Marta Lanuza Vives for their help in data collection in Madrid, Galicia and Valencia, respectively; Manuel Triano-López, Vicent Pau Moreno, Josep Sobrer and Verónica Loureiro-Rodríguez for their help with data in each of their respective native languages; and the three BLC reviewers – Carol Klee, Richard Cameron and Ana Maria Carvalho – for their invaluable comments and feedback on the initial draft of the paper, and Carmen Silva-Corvalán for her comments and all her editorial suggestions. Any remaining errors are our own.


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