Lexical Borrowing In The Spanish Spoken In New York City: Cultural And Linguistic Motivation.


Ana Ortigosa Pastor



This article addresses the issue of motivation for lexical borrowing in the Spanish spoken in New York City.  One of the main explanations given for borrowing has to do with filling a cultural gap that arises when the contact speaker encounters a new or different cultural reality and has to give linguistic form to new objects, acts, concepts or ideas (Haugen 1938, Weinreich 1953, Otheguy & García 1988, Otheguy & García 1993). Other common reasons for borrowing involve expressivity or the prestige the lending language has over the recipient one (Romaine 1995, Mendieta 1999, Silva-Corvalán 2001).  But while these explanations are applicable to many instances of loanwords, they do not cover all the cases. While English loanwords in Spanish in NYC such as Thanksgiving Day, sophomore, sundae clearly respond to new conceptual realities, there are others like subway, weekend or basement for which the explanation is not so straightforward. In this paper it is argued that there are mainly three causes that motivate borrowing in the Spanish spoken in NYC.  As indicated above, cultural borrowing (filling a cultural gap) will constitute one of the main reasons for borrowing. However, it is also believed that the structure of the target language will play a determinant role as regards borrowing.  More specifically we will be dealing with two main factors: the length of words and collocations (groups of words that customarily co-occur).


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