2020 Student Research Conference:
33rd Annual Student Research Conference

To Be or To Be: The Distinction Between Ser and Estar for Heritage Speakers of the Southwest of the United States


Nicole T. Orf
Dr. Stacy Bryant, Faculty Mentor

Within the speech of Spanish heritage speakers in the Southwest of the United States, there exists an extension of the verb estar to contexts where standard Spanish requires ser. Some linguists attribute this phenomenon to contact with English, a language that has only one copula. This project argues that the contact with English cannot be the only cause of the increased use of estar in this region. Throughout the history of these two verbs, there has always been a slow expansion of estar to contexts of ser. A comparison of the uses of the two copulas by bilinguals and monolinguals in other Spanish-speaking countries reveals that certain linguistic factors predict the contexts in which each copula is employed. In comparison with other Spanish-speaking countries, I propose that this extension is not an exclusive characteristic of heritage speakers in the Southwest but an acceleration of a phenomenon that always has existed.

Keywords: ser, estar, Spanish, heritage, Southwest, distinction, copula


Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Session: TBA
Location: TBA
Time: TBA

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