A multilevel statistical analysis of changes in language use among first-generation immigrants in a bilingual setting

David Livert, Ricardo Otheguy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The subject pronouns of English (which are nearly categorical) have contributed to a cross-generational increase in occurrence rates of Spanish pronouns (which are variably overt or null) among second generation speakers in New York. But is the passage of time also associated with overt pronoun rate increases among first generation immigrants? Analysis of a large corpus of verbs (n = 51,478) revealed that first generation speakers who arrived in New York between the ages of four and 14 showed significantly higher rates of pronoun use than those who arrived as young adults or older. Among all three first generation age-of-arrival cohorts, the number of years spent in New York was associated with higher rates of pronoun use. A significant difference owing to region of origin among first generation cohorts was also evident: Caribbean speakers showed higher pronoun rates than Mainland speakers, with the difference between regional rates higher among early arrivers than later arrivers. Multivariate analysis employed a two-level hierarchical linear model which revealed that all three predictors (age of arrival, exposure to New York, and region of origin) made independent, statistically significant contributions to pronoun overtness. The regression also showed that region of origin is the strongest predictor of pronoun use, after taking into account exposure and arrival age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-99
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number203
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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