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PhD Research School in Linguistics and Philology

Beate Sandvei

Las construcciones relativas especificativas en el español hablado en Argentina.

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Initial project description:

"In my PhD-project I examine the use of relative constructions in a corpus of naturally occurring spoken Argentine Spanish. The main purpose of the study is to determine what relative constructions used in spoken Spanish look like and what work they do.

My research questions are:

1)    Is it possible to identify a pattern in the use of relative constructions in spoken Argentine Spanish?

2)    What structure do relative constructions used in spoken Argentine Spanish have?

3)    What semantic functions do relative constructions used in spoken Argentine Spanish have?

4)    What discourse-pragmatic functions do relative constructions used in spoken Argentine Spanish have?

There are very few empirical studies on relative constructions in Spanish, and grammars descriptions of the construction are mostly based on invented or isolated literary examples. Empirical studies from English and German, however, indicate that relative constructions found in spoken language are very different from those described in the literature.

The corpus-based approach is chosen for this study as it “allows researchers to identify and analyze complex “association patterns”: the systematic ways in which linguistic features are used in association with other linguistic and non-linguistic features” (Douglas Biber, Susan Conrad and Randi Reppen, 1998, Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 5).

In order to identify “association patterns” relating to the research questions, a number of variables have been identified, for example, syntactic variables (the syntactic function of both the antecedent and the relative pronoun, the structure of the antecedent and the relative clause), semantic variables (for example, restriction versus no restriction), and discourse-pragmatic variables (for example, information status of the intended discourse referent).

The data used for the study:

1) El habla culta de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, a conversational corpus consisting of 250 000 words and 33 conversations among two or more informants.   

2) My own “The Pear Movie Corpus”, a narrative corpus of about 12000 words. I asked 40 informants from Buenos Aires to tell what they had just seen in a short video called The Pear Movie. The corpus thus consists of 40 versions of the same story.

The analysis of the data will be both quantitative and qualitative."

Sandvei successfully defended her thesis on 15 June 2012.