Subject Pronoun Expression (SPE) has been extensively studied in monolingual and bilingual varieties of Spanish using the variationist framework. The goal of these studies has been to examine the linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that condition the expression and the omission of personal subject pronouns. Nonetheless, to date, there is no study of SPE in the Spanish of Equatorial Guinea, the only African country where it is an official language, and the single country where Spanish is exclusively a second language (L2). This dissertation fills this gap in the literature by accounting for SPE in Equatoguinean Spanish.
The research questions guiding this study concern the rates of Subject Pronoun Expression, its conditioning factors, and universal accounts of L2 acquisition, in particular, the Interface Hypothesis (IH). The study had 30 participants from Malabo, who took part in sociolinguistic interviews. These interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the mixed effects software Rbrul. Along the lines of the literature reviewed, the linguistic factor groups studied were grammatical person and number, reference, reflexivity, verb type, and ambiguity. By the same token, the extra linguistic factors analyzed were age, sex, education, native language (L1), and speaker as a random factor.
The results indicate that the Equatoguinean variety of Spanish has one of the lowest pronoun rates (19.1%), a finding that goes against the predictions of the IH. With regard to the linguistic factor groups that condition Subject Pronoun Expression, Equatoguinean Spanish shows an unorthodox ranking: grammatical person and number, ambiguity, verb class, and reference. Interestingly, the low ranking of reference gives support to the IH, which argues that L2 speakers have problems with constraints like the switch of the reference in subjects because it integrates discourse and pragmatic interfaces. The only significant extra-linguistic factor was education, whereas speakers’ L1 exerted no effect on SPE. Individual speaker was a significant random factor group, indicating that variation is great even in speakers with comparable education.
In sum, this study of a unique speech community provides new information on SPE of L2 Spanish. It also contributes to the fields of language contact, language variation, and second language acquisition.