Staff Member Projects

Pronoun variation and pronoun processing in Latin American Spanish 

plaatje MauderGuest Researcher: El Mauder

The use of Spanish third person pronouns differs between European and Latin American Spanish and even within these dialects there are broad variations – regional,  as well as with respect to socioeconomic speaker variables. This raises the question as to how much communicative value these form actually have and which syntactic or semantic factors influence or determine their use. Understanding these factors will also increase our understanding of the cognitive processing of pronouns in general.  

My research combines observational and experimental methods, gathering data on the use of these pronoun forms in different speakers’ communities and investigating individual speakers’ reactions to variation of pronoun forms in controlled contexts. 

In the present set of experiments, which are carried out in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, I compare native speakers’ reading time of sentence fragment containing “correct” combinations of verbs and pronouns with “incorrect” combinations, i.e. pronoun forms that do not match the grammatical case associated with the verb or the gender of the pronoun referent.  

The results of these experiments will also serve as input for future ERP studies in order to get more insight into the cognitive processing of these forms. 

 

Fig 1. shows a (slightly adapted) example of one of the experimental stimuli with the resulting reading times for the fragments under the three experimental conditions 

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