|UFDC Home||myUFDC Home | Help|
This item has the following downloads:
SPANISH-ENGLISH BILINGUALS IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA: A CROSS-
GENERATIONAL STUDY OF THE USE OF CALQUES
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
This document is dedicated to my parents.
I like to thank Dr.Gillian Lord for her patience, dedication, support,
encouragement, inspiration, and compassion. She has truly been my graduate school
angel and I will always strive to follow her professionalism and passion for life.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv
LIST OF TABLES ........................ ......... ......... ......... ..............vii
A B STR A C T ................................................................................ ..................... viii
1 IN TR O D U C TIO N ......................................................................... .... .. ........
2 LITER A TU R E R EV IEW ............................................................... ...................... 4
L exical B orrow ing ............................................................. ............. ..... ........ 4
Caiques and Loan W ords............................................................ ............5
P reviou s R research ............................................................ .............. .. ..... ... 11
3 THE PRESENT STUDY ......................................................................... 20
R research Q u estion s........... .... .............................................................. ........ .......... .. 2 0
P a rtic ip a n ts ............................................................................................................ 2 1
T a sk s ...................................................................................................................... 2 2
4 R E S U L T S .............................................................................2 5
G ro u p I .................................................................................2 5
D em graphics ............................................ 25
C a lq u e s ................................................................2 6
G ro u p II ....................................................................2 7
D em graphics ............................................ 27
C a lq u e s ................................................................2 9
G ro u p III ........................................................................................................ 3 0
D em graphics ............................................ 30
C a lq u e s ..................................................................................................... 3 1
5 D IS C U S SIO N ............................................................................... 33
6 CONCLUSION..................... ..................39
Lim stations and Future D irection............................... ................... 39
A IN F O R M E D C O N SE N T ................................................................. .....................42
B DEMOGRAPHICS QUESTIONNAIRE........................ ........................ 43
C WRITTEN TRANSLATION EXERCISE ...................................... ............... 44
D QUESTION AND ANSWER ORAL EXERICSE................ ... ............... 46
E QUESTIONS FOR OPEN INTERVIEW........................................ ............... 48
L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ........................................................................ .....................49
BIOGRAPH ICAL SKETCH ..............................................................................51
LIST OF TABLES
1 Demographic background for Group I.......................................... ............... 25
2 Number and relative percentage of all calque occurrences for Group I...................26
3 Demographic background for Group II......................................... ............... 28
4 Number and relative percentage of calque occurrences for Group II....................29
5 Demographic background for Group III ...................................... ............... 30
6 Number and relative percentage of calque occurrences for Group III.................31
7 G roup results for gender................................................. .............................. 36
8 R results for nationality ....................... .. ...................... .... ....... .... ............. 37
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
SPANISH-ENGLISH BILINGUALS IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA: A CROSS-
GENERATIONAL STUDY OF THE USE OF CALQUES
Chair: Gillian Lord
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures
The first purpose of the present study was to explore the use of calques among
three age groups of individuals in Gainesville, Florida. The age groups were divided into
three groups. Group I contains six participants who came to the United States as adults in
their twenties and have resided in the United States for more than six years. Group II also
contains six participants who came to the United States between the ages of eleven and
eighteen. Group III contains eight participants, all of whom came to the United States
before the age of eleven or were born in the United States. Consequently these
participants have lived most, if not all, of their lives in the United States.
The second purpose, equally as important as the first purpose, was to investigate
whether extraliguistic factors such as education, economic status, gender, language
proficiency (in Spanish and English) and nationality are correlated with the number of
calques produced by Spanish-English bilinguals.
This study analyzed data from a total of 20 English-Spanish bilinguals.
Participants were between eighteen and fifty-five years of age, but most were in their
early to mid-twenties. All the participants were born in Cuba, Mexico or Puerto Rico or
had parents who had been born in those countries. All participants resided in Gainesville,
at the time of the study.
To gather the data each participant completed a demographics questionnaire, a 21-
item written translation exercise, a 16-item oral question/answer exercise and an open-
The results showed that age group, proficiency level in Spanish and English, and
gender can be correlated with calque production. But, it also showed that education,
economic status, and nationality do not appear to have a substantial correlation with the
production of calques among the participants.
"Mi padre es seis pies de alto".
"Hoy voy a pedir una aplicaci6n en Macy's".
"Recibo grados excelentes en el colegio".
The phrases above are examples containing calques of the type that are commonly
heard among Spanish-English bilinguals in regions of the United States that have dense
populations of Hispanics. In this study we consider Spanish-English bilinguals to be
those who have acquired a level of automatic bilingual proficiency and can communicate
in Spanish or English with similar effectiveness. Automatic bilingual proficiency refers to
the production of Spanish and/ or English without a preconceived analysis of either
language. Although these bilinguals seem to control the syntactic, semantic or pragmatic
structures of Spanish, their language can still be heavily influenced by lexical
interference such as calques and loan words.
This study focuses solely on one-word and phrasal calques. Calquing is usually
triggered when the speaker does not know a particular word in the target language and
therefore will refer to another language to semi-borrow the unknown term. Once this
takes place the speaker effects a literal translation into the target language. The definition
of a calque can vary from author to author therefore several dictionary definitions are
offered in the present study. The American Heritage College Dictionary states that a
calque is "a form of borrowing from one language to another whereby the semantic
components of a given term literally are translated into their equivalents in the borrowing
language" (795). Another basic definition is provided in the Student's Dictionary of
Language and Linguistics,
a calque is defined as a word or phrase constructed by using a word or phrase in
another language as a model and translating it piece by piece. For example, the
ancient Greek word 'sympathy' or 'compassion' was %yI//lhia, formed from syn
'with' and pathia 'suffering'. The Romans calqued this Greek word into Latin as
'compassion', from con 'with' and passio 'suffering', (Trask, 1997:35).
In addition a calque is defined in the Glossary of linguistic terminology (Pei 1978)
as a translation loan word; the translated imitation of a special meaning ('foot' as a unit of
measure is a calque, or loan translation, of Latinpes used in that sense)" (37). Another
definition is provided by Arlotto (1972) who indicates that a calque is based on
translating the component parts of a foreign word into roots native to the borrowing
Two categories of calques are studied in the present study, the phrasal calque and
the one-word calque. Silva-Corvalan (1994) defines a one-word calque as the transferring
of the meaning of one word into an already existing lexical item (171). As the name
indicates, one-word calques consist of only a single word, for instance, the word
aplicaci6n takes the meaning of English 'application', when used by bilinguals in place of
the standard Spanish solicitud. A second example is grado, used as English 'grade', which
should be nota in standard Spanish (Silva-Corvalan, 1994). Phrasal calques or multiple-
word calques also share the same basic definition offered for the one-word calque, but
phrasal calques are composed of more than one word, for example te Hlamopara atrds
used for 'I will call you back', where the standard form should be te llamo despuds.
Another example is escuela alta used for 'high school' instead of escuela superior (Smead
Although the term "borrowing" is used to refer to such linguistic processes as loan
words and calques, a distinction must be drawn between a loan word and a calque.
According to Trask (1997) a better term for borrowing may be "copying" (19). Loan
words are words borrowed from another language. For example the loan word for the
English term "high school" isjaiscul, (Smead, 1998: 113). On the other hand, calques are
semi-borrowed; in other words, calques may be considered borrowed words because they
are constructed from other languages and then incorporated into the target language.
Calques are not direct borrowings like loan words, because a literal translation takes
place and is then incorporated. Trask (1997) concurs that calques are constructed from
other languages without quite borrowing any words directly (21). Consequently a calque
is constructed by taking a foreign word or phrase as model and translating it.
The present study analyzes the use of calques in the speech of three age groups of
Spanish speakers residing in Gainesville, Florida. The primary purpose of this research is
to explore the impact that extralinguistic factors such as gender, income, education,
proficiency level in Spanish, proficiency level in English and nationality have on the
production of calques.
The following section provides a brief overview of lexical borrowing as well as an
explanation of the difference between calques and loan words. In addition, previous
studies are reviewed and their findings on calque production among bilinguals are
discussed in light of the present study.
Lexical borrowing is a term used to refer to linguistic processes such as loan words,
lexical switches and calques. Borrowing is important because it is a way of adding new
vocabulary items to a language. Borrowing often occurs when speakers of a language
have contact with speakers of other languages.
Although definitions differ from author to author, they still share similarities.
According to Hoffman (1991), borrowing refers "to borrowed items that can be adapted
either phonetically only or both phonetically and morphologically" (101). This statement
is also supported by Clarkson (1977), who stated that with respect to Spanish "phonology
and morphology are both influenced by the proximity of English, but the area most
influenced by English is vocabulary" (Clarkson 1977: 965), although obviously lexical
borrowing is a common occurrence among bilinguals of any two languages. According to
Otheguy and Garcia (1993), Whitney (1881), Bloomfield (1933), Haugen (1938) and
Hockett (1973), lexical borrowing does not occur because of the speaker's ethnic pride,
educational background or lack of education. Nor does it occur because speakers are
expressing their bilingualism or social symbolism. Instead, researchers claim that lexical
borrowing is employed because it is the only way the speakers know how to express
themselves. The speakers have been linguistically trained within their culture to speak in
that manner. Simply put, lexical borrowing is an indication that the culture of Spanish-
English bilinguals has become "Americanized" (Otheguy 1993: 21). Otheguy and Garcia
(1993) point out that some scholars, including Casagrande (1954), Turano (1974) and
Weinreich (1953) have said that lexical borrowing allows bilinguals to express
themselves precisely by adapting their vocabulary to the novel content of a foreign milieu
(Otheguy and Garcia, 1993: 135). Otheguy and Garcia explain that "no two societies are
the same; there is no absolute way in which they can express the same things or situations
in the same manner unless lexical borrowing takes place" (136).
Caiques and Loan Words
In the following pages, a brief description of calques and loan words is presented.
Although the present study only deals with the use of calques among Spanish-English
bilinguals, loan words are discussed as well due to their similarities and due to the fact
that many researchers do not distinguish between the two in their works. Authors such as
Smead (1998) and Silva-Corvalan (1994) also provide their own definitions of calques
and loan words. Smead describes a calque as a transfer of meaning and not form, and a
loan word as a transfer of form as well as meaning. In agreement with Smead, Silva-
Corvalan (1994, 2002) describes a calque as the transfer of meanings into an already
existing lexical item. She describes loan words as the transfer of forms together with their
According to Otheguy and Garcia (1993), it is impossible to effectively distinguish
between loan words and calques. As a result, these researchers opt for categorizing loan
words and calques together as contact neologisms. Consequently, their data include loan
words, calques and word-switches1. In analyzing their data, Otheguy and Garcia note that
"in many cases it was impossible to tell if the speakers were referring to a calque or loan
word" (Otheguy and Garcia 1993: 139). For example, it was difficult to distinguish
whether speakers were using the English "application" as a loanword, phonologically
adapted into Spanish aplicaci6n, or whether the Spanish word aplicaci6n had acquired
the meaning of English "application", thus becoming a calque. In such cases, the context
of the utterance is fundamental in differentiating between a loan word and a calque.
Montes Giraldo (1985) notes that in order for a calque to take place; there must be a
partial similarity in semantics, lexemes and grammatical patterns between the two
languages (20). For example, the traditional English word "collect"' (to gather together
objects, results in the calque in Spanish colectar (to gather funds) because of the
similarity that exists between the English and Spanish forms, (Otheguy, Garcia and
Fernandez, 1989: 45). It is difficult to differentiate between a calque and a word in its
traditional form because a similar word may be found in both languages but with
different meanings. A typical example would be the word asistencia in Spanish, which
means "attendance" in English, but when used in its calque form the meaning changes to
"assistance". Special attention must be paid to the context of the utterance in order to
distinguish whether a word is in its calque form or traditional form. We can illustrate
this with the following example, le escribo letras a mifamilia ('I write letters to my
family') because of its context we know that the term letras is in its calqued form, the
traditional form should be cartas. On the other hand, if the term letras is shown in the
1 According to Hammink (2000) word-switches refer to when morphophonological adaptation does not
occur, for example Juan tiene los 'movie tickets' instead of 'Juan has the movie tickets' (Hammink 2000).
following context, hay muchas letras en el alfabeto, then we know that letras is presented
in its traditional form.
Calques can also be further classified, as Smead and Clegg (1996) propose. Their
initial typology of calques, like that of Otheguy and Garcia (1988), distinguishes between
"word calques", consisting of a single lexical item, and phrasall calques", consisting of
multiple lexemes (123). Calques can be further divided into "merged" or "independent"
categories, according to Otheguy, Garcia and Fernandez (1989), who define the former as
those in which phonological forms migrate from the influencing language. An example is
the calque carta (standard form is tarjeta), as in greeting card, which is phonologically
similar to English "card". Independent calques are different in phonological form from
the influencing language, for example the calque estoy quebrada (standard form is estoy
en bancarrota) which is derived from the English idiom "I am broke". Later, Smead and
Clegg (1996) revised their typology in order to separate word calques into "formally
convergent" or "formally divergent" subdivisions, based on substitution and importation.
"Importation replicates in the host language a particular linguistic level of the model, and
substitution is the accommodation of a specific linguistic level of the model to the
patterns of the host language which results in the perceptible alteration of that level"
(Smead and Clegg 1996: 124). Importation only occurs semantically; an example is the
calqued expression soy de mente diferente which is derived from the English expression
"I am of a different mind". The standard expression in Spanish should be yo tengo ideas/
opinions diferentes. Substitution, on the other hand, occurs morphologically and
phonologically. An example would be the word actualmente in Spanish, which means
"presently" in English, but when used in its calque form the meaning changes to
"actually" or "in reality".
Silva-Corvalan (1995), Otheguy, Garcia and Fernandez (1989) and Giraldo (1985)
also saw the need to classify types of calques. First, Silva-Corvalan (1995) delimits four
specific types. The first type is single-word calques; these include cases in which a
meaning is transferred into an already existing lexical item. For example, grades
"degrees" extends its meaning to incorporate one of the meanings of English "grades"
(254). The second type is multiple-word calques that do not alter semantic or
grammatical features (255). For instance, the multiple-word mdquina de contestar is
derived from the English multiple-word "answering machine" but in standard Spanish
would be contestador automctico. Another example is dias de semana which is derived
from the multiple-word "weekdays" but in standard Spanish would be dias de trabajo.
The third type of calque is multiple-word calques of bound collocations, idioms and
proverbs, which "are reproduced exactly with lexical units from the replica language"
(255). To illustrate, cambiar de mente "to change one's mind" is used instead of cambiar
de ideas/opiniones. Lexico-syntactic calques are the last type; these are calques that alter
semantic or grammatical features of the replica language (257). For instance, the
following expression, mipadre es 6pies (de altura) "my father is 6 feet tall" is used
instead of the standard expression, mipadre mide 6pies (de altura) (257). This is a
lexico-syntactic calque because the verb medir "to measure" is replaced by ser "to be".
Then there is Otheguy, Garcia and Fernandez' (1989) distinction between three
types of calques: similar-sense versus different-sense, merged-form versus independent-
form, and duplicating versus innovating-message. Similar-sense calques are similar to an
already existing sense of the host word, for example colectar "to gather funds" versus the
English word "to collect", which means "to gather together objects" (45). The English
meaning has transferred to the Spanish word. Different-sense calques are derived from
host words with senses that are different. As an example, in quierojugar la guitarra,
jugar reflects the English word "play". While it is standard to say in English, "I play the
guitar", when "play" is literally translated into Spanish usingjugar rather than tocar this
is considered a different-sense calque. Merged-form calques are those in which
phonological forms migrate from the influencing language. For instance, ruta versus
"root" (of a tree) instead of the standard form raiz. Independent-form calques are
different in phonological form from the influencing language, for examplejugar versus
"to play" (45).
The third type distinction is between duplicating versus innovating-message
calques. Duplicating calques are "strictly based on cognitive-referential grounds, for
example colectar cartas where the newly introduced sense of colectar contributes to
conveying a message that is almost identical to the existing message by coleccionar
postales (46). On the other hand, an innovating calque introduces a new sense or term
motivated by the need to communicate in Spanish notions that are nonexistent in that
language (46). An example of an innovating calque word is el Dia de dar las Gracias;
because this holiday is not present in Latin America or Spain, immigrants have had to
introduce a new expression to express "Thanksgiving Day" in Spanish. Although these
distinctions are necessary in order to understand the main basis of Otheguy, Garcia and
Fernandez' study, for the present study this distinction will not be further discussed.
Finally Giraldo (1985) further categorizes calques as grammatical calques,
translation calques, semantic calques, and idiomatic calques (Montes Giraldo 1985: 48).
Grammatical calques can either be syntactic or morphological, for example esperarpor is
used instead of the standard expression esperar a "to wait for" or disturbar instead of the
standard form molestar "to bother". On the other hand, translation calques are those that
maintain the same meaning from the host language, for example, mercado negro "black
market" andprensa amarilla "yellow press". Although the above are in their calqued
form, they are still widely accepted as the standard form. An example of semantic calques
would be the word casual for the English word "casual" instead of the appropriate
traditional forms, espontdneo, informal, or noplaneado. Finally, the last division
comprises calques that are referred to as idiomatic, for example, olvidalo instead of the
expected expression no te preocupes or despreocfupate "do not worry". It appears that
some calqued expressions in Latin America have become so popularized that their
standard form is rapidly disappearing.
The present study does not categorize loan words and calque words into any
particular group because the purpose here is to identify the extralinguistic factors that
impact the production of calques alone. Therefore, the focus is on the presence and
quantity of overall calque production among the participants, regardless of the specific
linguistic elements of each. The current research follows Silva-Corvalan's (1995) general
definition of a calque because of its relative clarity: a calque as the transfer of meaning
into an already existing lexical item.
In this section, previous work investigating the production of calques is reviewed.
Although these studies vary in methodology and focus, they are of interest here because
they can inform the design and findings in the present study.
The first study is Silva-Corvalan (1994), which analyzes three generational groups
of Mexicans or Mexican descendants residing in Los Angeles, California. She divided
each group according to the length of time that the speakers' families had lived in the
United States, as follows: Group I participants (N=4) were born in Mexico, but
immigrated to the United States after age eleven; Group II participants (N=2) were born
in the United States or who had moved to this country before the age of six; and Group
III participants (N=13) were born in the United States, and also had a parent who had
moved to the United States before the age of six or who was born in the United States.
She wanted to ensure that each participant had a certain level of bilingualism, so she
included only individuals who had resided in the United States for at least five years.
According to Silva-Corvalan the minimal time required for the development of some
degree ofbilingualism is five years (13).
Group I Group II Group III
Born in Mexico but immigrated Born in the U.S. or moved to Born in the U.S. and also had a
Born in the U.S. or moved to
to the U.S. after the age of parent who moved to U.S. before
U.S. before the age of six.
eleven. U. b e t age six or was born here
Silva-Corvalan's data included one-hour samples of oral speech from each of the
participants. Her main focus was on calques of bound collocations (idioms), which are
reproduced exactly with lexical units from the replica language. For example, the
standard expression estoy en bancarrota "I'm broke" is replaced by estoy quebrado/a
which literally means "I am broke" (256). She also studied lexico-syntactic calques,
which are multiple-word calques that alter semantic and /or grammatical features of the
replica language, such as te lamopara atrds "I will call you back", instead of the
traditional form, te llamo despuds or al rato (257).
Her results revealed that Mexicans in Los Angeles do not commonly incorporate
calques into their speech. For example, only one participant in Group I used calques,
providing only two in total. On the other hand, group II incorporated calques at a rate of
0.0 to 2.9 cases per ten minutes of conversation. The number of calques increases in
group III, which produced 0.6 to 2.1 calques per ten minutes of conversation. Her results
show that calques (both bound-collocations and lexico-syntactic calques) are not common
in the speech of the participants, regardless of generational groups.
Given that Silva-Corvalan only considered the division of generations in her study,
I opted to further her analysis by looking at a range of variables such as gender, income,
education, proficiency level in English and Spanish, and nationality in the present study.
The purpose of such an analysis is to determine the impact that such variables have in the
occurrence rate of calques across each generation.
Silva-Corvalan's calque study is informative; however, a possible weakness seems
to be the number of participants in each group. The difference in the numbers of
participants from group to group may have resulted in an imbalance in the data. Perhaps
the results would have been more reliable if her experiment had had an equal number of
participants in each group. This weakness has been corrected in the present study.
Another study of importance is Otheguy, Garcia & Fernandez' (1989), attempt to
determine the rate of loan words, calques and switching among two generational groups.
Their study is based on a corpus of 13,000 words, derived from twelve interviews with 12
participants belonging to two generations of Cuban Americans. All participants who took
part in their study resided in the New York/New Jersey area. The first generation group
included six participants that were born in Cuba and were all well into their adult years.
The second generation group included six participants that were born in the United
States, and between the ages of fifteen and twenty.
The results of the Otheguy, Garcia and Femandez study verify that the Cuban-born
participants used fewer calques, loanwords and switching in their speech than the
participants who were born in the United States. Although occurrences of lexical
interference did occur in both groups, their numbers were not significant. Both
generations together produced less than 1% in loan words and calques, while the
percentage for switching was slightly higher, at 2.5%. Nonetheless, these percentages are
still quite small. The researchers also show the increase that occurs from the first to the
second generation, expressed in percentage points, (Otheguy, Garcia, Femandez, 1989:
49). They found significantly higher rates for those born in the United States than those
born in Cuba. Loanwords had a 0.2 percentage point increase between generations and
switching had a 3.4 percentage point increase between generations. On the other hand,
calques had a 1.5 percentage point increase between generations. "This suggests that
what most distinguishes the speech of the second generation from that of the first is
calques and what distinguishes it the least is loanwords", (Otheguy, Garcia, Fernandez,
1989: 49), .
It has been stated in previous studies that calquing can only occur when the
individual is considered equally proficient in both languages (e.g., Sewell 2001 & Silva-
Corvalan 1994), but seems to contradict the conclusions in this study. Otheguy, Garcia
and Fernandez agree that the use of calquing indicates proficiency in both languages, and
that calquing marks stable bilingualism among bilinguals, but only in certain situations.
Consequently, they consider their results to be inconclusive because some types of
calques that were produced indicate that there is bilingual stability while other types
represent language shift. For example, only 5% of the calques were innovative and all of
those were all produced by the participants that were born in Cuba. For the most part, the
second generation used duplicating calques more often, indicating that they use calques
that displace existing, traditional Spanish message formulas (49). In other words, the type
of calquing that second generation participants include in their speech indicates that they
may be losing knowledge of the Spanish lexical system. On the other hand, some types
of calques indicate that bilingualism in the United States is stable. Similar-sense calquing
occurred 90% of the time, while different-sense calquing took place only 10% of the
time. Because similar-sense calques are less radical, they indicate stability in bilingualism
among Spanish-English bilinguals in the United States.
A later study by Otheguy and Garcia (1993) is also relevant to the present
discussion. In this study, no distinction is made between loan words, switches or calques.
Instead, the researchers place the three types of lexical borrowing in one category called
contact neologisms. Otheguy and Garcia investigate if the production of neologisms
increases or decreases according to cultural context, and base their findings on two
rounds of interviews. In the first interview, the participants answered questions as if they
were in Latin America. When the same subjects returned two months later for a second
interview, they answered questions as if they were in the United States. One of the
drawbacks in this methodology is that the participants had to pretend that they were in
Latin America during the interview, although they never left New York City, where both
of the interviews were conducted. Nevertheless, the results of the study showed that the
rate of contact neologisms increased in the second set of interviews, when the participants
imagined that they were in New York City. The two variables analyzed are the total
number of words produced and the number of contact neologisms found (within those
The outcome of Otheguy and Garcia's analysis indicates that cultural context does
have an impact on the use of lexical borrowing, but the variety of topics discussed in the
interview did not. The researchers also examined extralinguistic factors such as gender,
level of education, nationality and age, and determined that these were not good
predictors in the production of neologisms. As they conclude, "the only good predictor is
whether the topic is being placed in one cultural context or the other" (Otheguy and
Garcia 1993: 150). The present study also analyzes extralinguistic factors such as gender,
level of education, and ethnicity, but in contrast to Otheguy and Garcia's study, context
will not be examined. Exploring the same factors as the above researchers will allow us
to support or disprove their claim that these factors have no impact on the production of
calques. In summary, their study provides important data on lexical interference among
The results prove that contact neologisms are in fact a phenomenon that occurs
among Spanish-English bilinguals. The results obtained by Otheguy and Garcia were
partially contradicted by Montes Giraldo (1985). For his study, he uses a calque
definition similar to that of Silva-Corvalan (1994, 2002),
Montes Giraldo's data were culled from Colombian newspapers, magazines and
novels. He presents specific excerpts from texts that contain words in their calque form
instead of their traditional form. To illustrate, he found the word asumir in all 27
excerpts, but used in its calque sense "to assume" instead of its traditional sense "to
receive" or "to assimilate". He concluded that calques in these written texts occurred
more frequently than Otheguy and Garcia (1993) had reported when participants
imagined themselves to be in a Latin-American country. A plausible explanation for this
difference is the difference in methodology between the studies. Montes Giraldo's data
was elicited in a single country and did not incorporate hypothetical data.
Garcia, Fishman, Gertner and Burunat's (1985) work also provides a calque
analysis of written Spanish. Their study analyzes newspapers from three major parts of
the United States as well as three Latin American countries. Their sample consisted of
five 1980 issues each of La opinion (Los Angeles), Diario Las Americas (Miami), Diario
La Prensa (New York), Excelsior (Mexico), Gramma (Cuba), and ElMundo (Puerto
Rico). Only columns signed by local individuals and classified ads were analyzed in
each newspaper. Although they analyzed a variety of variables, their interest in English
influence (ie. calques and loan words) is relevant here. Although the results showed that
calques are present in written documents in the United States as well as in Spanish
speaking countries, the presence of loan words is more prevalent than the presence of
calques in the United States as well as in Spanish speaking countries. In the United
States, .99% of the samples consisted of loan words, while .37% were calques; in the
written texts from Spanish-speaking countries, .69% of the text consisted of loan words,
and only .12% were calques. The authors conclude that "although there are more loan
words than calques in both the United States and Spanish speaking countries, calques are
more diffused in the United States context than in the Spanish speaking context" (Garcia,
Fishman, Gertner & Burunat 1985: 90). Nonetheless, it is necessary to point out the
infrequency of these borrowings in their data. Neither loan words nor calques accounted
for even 1% of the texts.
Another significant study of calques was carried out by Sewell (2001), in which she
suggests that the frequency of calques might depend on whether one is translating from or
into his/ her dominant language. She included 26 participants who spoke both English
and French, divided into five groups according to their language background. The first
group consisted of 19 speakers whose native language was English but had resided in
France for a considerable time. The second group consisted of 3 speakers whose first
language was French and had resided in the UK for many years. The third group had 2
Anglophone African individuals who were educated in English, although English was not
their native language. Finally, the fourth and fifth groups consisted of 1 individual each,
one, whose native language was German, (who also spoke French) and the other who was
of Mauritian of Cantonese origin, who was mainly educated in French. Each group
provided a written translation of two texts, without benefit of a dictionary. The English
text consisted of a short excerpt from an article that appeared in an English newspaper,
and the French text was a passage from Albert Camus' 1957 short story, La Femme
adultere. Sewell analyzed calque production in French and in English as they related to
the participants' test. She found that the number of calques was greater when the
translation was from French into English (total of 132 calques) than English into French
(total of 26 calques) for all participants. Sewell's results also demonstrated that the
subjects who were proficient in both languages as shown on the test produced a higher
number of calques than those who were not equally proficient in both French and
English. To summarize, Sewell proved that calque production is higher when one is
translating from his/ her dominant language into a second language.
Lastly, a small scale study carried out by Dorado (2002) is also relevant to this
review, as its main goal was to investigate whether generational background impacts the
number of calques produced by Spanish-English bilinguals. This study also served as a
pilot study for the project described here. The data was obtained from three generational
groups of bilinguals in North Central Florida: Group I included participants who came to
the United States as adults, approximately in their early twenties; Group II included
participants who came to the United States between the ages eleven to nineteen and who
had lived in this country between one and ten years; and Group III was composed of
people who came to the United States before their eleventh birthday and had lived in the
United States most of their lives.
Dorado's (2002) data consisted of responses to a twenty-one question written
translation exercise, as well as a sixteen-question oral interview, each of which contained
phrases that were expected to prompt participants to use calques in their replies. The
results indicate that calquing does occur among bilinguals in this region although written
and oral modes resulted in different calquing rates. Overall, the written exercise showed a
higher percentage of calques than the oral exercise for all groups. Group I produced a rate
of 30% of calques in the written exercise and a rate of 12% in the oral exercise, while
Group II, produced 47% of calques in the written exercise versus 2.3% in the oral
exercise. Group III had a 38% calque rate in the written exercise and a 15% in the oral
exercise. These results are important because they support various studies that have also
indicated that individuals who immigrated to the U.S. after the age of 11 tend to produce
more calques than other generations. Additionally, this study went further, by comparing
oral and written communication and determining that there is in fact a difference in terms
of effect on calque production.
One problem with the studies presented above is that they do not target calques
alone but rather examine all kinds of borrowing. Therefore, in order to understand the
nature of calques specifically, the present only looks at calques, in terms of the variables
such as level of proficiency in Spanish and English, nationality, gender, education and
economic status that may have an impact on the production. This study is an extension of
Dorado (2002) in terms of focus and methodology. The findings discussed above sparked
the current interest in furthering this line of research, although several changes were
needed to obtain more conclusive findings, as will be described below.
THE PRESENT STUDY
The primary purpose of this study, as has been stated above, is to explore the use of
calques among three age groups of individuals in Gainesville, Florida, and to investigate
whether extralinguistic factors such as education, economic status, gender, language
proficiency (in Spanish and English), and nationality are correlated with the number of
calques produced by Spanish-English bilinguals. It is hoped that the narrow focus of this
study will shed light on just how common calquing is, as well as on the factors that
In light of the above information on bilingual calquing, the following research
questions motivated the present study:
1. Are there significant differences in the frequency of calques among the three age
2. What is the relationship between an individual's proficiency levels in Spanish and
English and his/ her rate of calquing?
3. How do the independent variables of educational background, income, nationality
and gender impact the number of calques individuals produced?
According to the studies discussed previously, (Garcia, Fishman, Gertner, &
Burunat 1985; Montes 1985; Otheguy & Garcia 1993; Otheguy, Garcia, & Fernmandez
1989; and Silva-Corvalan 1994) calquing is not as prevalent as other types of lexical
interference. By isolating this relatively infrequent lexical interference, it is hoped that
we can gain greater insight into the importance of the factors mentioned in the research
questions. It is hypothesized that most of the calquing will occur among those individuals
who were born in or came to the United States before the age of eleven; since this is the
group that has had the most simultaneous contact with both Spanish and English, they
have had the opportunity develop both proficiencies equally and to function in both.
Conversely, we may hypothesize that less calquing will occur among the older generation
that came to the United States as adults, due to the fact that they most likely will lack
proficiency in English.
This study analyzes data from a total of 20 English-Spanish bilinguals. Participants
were between eighteen and fifty-five years of age, but most were in their early to mid-
twenties. All the participants were either born in Cuba, Mexico or Puerto Rico or had
parents who had been born in those countries, and all participants currently live in
Gainesville, Florida. These three countries of origin were chose because their populations
represent the greatest Hispanic populations in the United States. In Florida, Cuban
immigrants are the most prevalent particularly in the Miami area. The Puerto Ricans
population is the second highest among Hispanics in Florida, especially in cities like
Tampa and Orlando. Mexicans, on the other hand, are relatively scarce in Florida,
although many Mexicans travel to Gainesville to work in construction and many decide
The categorization of participants into three groups was carried out following
Silva-Corvalan's (1994) criteria. Group I contains six participants who came to the
United States from Puerto Rico, Mexico or Cuba as adults in their twenties and have
resided in the United States for more than six years. This six year cut-off was chosen in
accordance with Silva-Corvalan's proposal that it takes five years for a person to develop
a level of bilingualism. Group II also contains six participants, although these came to the
United States between the ages of eleven and eighteen. In this case, eleven was chosen as
the cut-off age because it is considered by many to be the critical age by which the
structures of one's native language are firmly acquired (Silva-Corvalan, 1994: 15). The
members of this group have lived in this country between one and ten years. Finally,
Group III contains eight participants, all of whom came to the United States before the
age of eleven or were born in the United States. Consequently these participants have
lived most, if not all, of their lives in the United States.
Some of the participants belonged to Hispanic organizations on the University of
Florida campus and were recruited to participate through those organizations. This
method of finding participants, however, had a drawback, because only college students,
were found in these meetings. The rest of the participants, representing a more diverse
group, were found at shopping centers, gyms, restaurants and grocery stores in
Gainesville, Florida. Participants who agreed to participate in the study were asked to
sign a consent form, complete a demographics questionnaire and take part in a written
translation exercise, a question/answer session with the researcher, and an open-ended
interview. These tasks are discussed in greater detail in the following section.
Each participant completed a demographics questionnaire that included 17
questions about their background such as gender, age, place of birth, educational
background, economic status, proficiency level in Spanish and English, etc. The complete
survey is provided in Appendix B. Independent evaluations of proficiency levels in
Spanish and English were not made. While self-reporting has been shown to have some
discrepancies, the information provided by participants is valuable because it offers an
insight into how the participant views his/her own language skills.
The participants then completed a 21-item written translation exercise, a 16- item
oral question/answer exercise, and an open-ended interview. The exercises and questions
for the open interview are included in Appendices C, D and E respectively. The items
included in the written translation and question/answer exercises were specifically
intended to prompt participants to use calques, in that all the items contained words that
are commonly calqued among Spanish-English bilinguals. For example, the written
translation exercise contained such phrases, as "I get excellent grades". The participants
were expected to provide either the standard answer Yo tengo buenas notas or the
hypothesized calqued answer Yo tengo buenos grados. The calque triggers included in
the written translation exercise and question/answer oral exercise were modeled after
those used by Silva-Corvalan (1994). In all tasks, participants were asked to use only
Spanish. Participants were given 30 minutes to complete the written translation exercise.
Participants were not allowed to discuss their answers with the researcher during
In the oral question/answer exercise, participants were required to be more
spontaneous in their replies. The questions were asked in English by the researcher, and
participants were told to answer in complete sentences in Spanish. An example of a
question in this exercise, also intended to trigger a calque, is: "Do you love your car?"
The expected calqued answer would be, Si, amo mi carro "Yes, I love my car", while the
standard answer would be, Si me encanta mi carro "Yes, I love my car".
Lastly, a 2-3 minute open interview was conducted with each participant, dealing
with a variety of topics such as the participant's high school experience or dreams and
goals for the future, etc. Only the results of the written and oral question/answer exercise
are presented in the following sections. The open ended interview did not result in any
calque production in any of the groups, and therefore it will not be further discussed here.
The results presented the number of calques produced by each participant. A calque
percentage rate was then computed by dividing the number of calques by the total
number of words produced and then multiplying by 100.
For clarity, results are presented by group. In the discussion section all data are
analyzed as a whole.
As stated above, this group consists of those who came to the United States as
adults, in their twenties. Table 1 provides a summary of the group characteristics.
Table 1: Demographic background for Group I
A Arrival Proficiency Proficiency
Nationality Gender g Education Income age in the Level in Level in
e U.S. Spanish English
Participant 3 $25-
Participant Cuba F BA $25- 27 Excellent Good
I-1 9 $30,000
Par t 6 $60,000-
P t Cuba M 6 MA more 20 Excellent Excellent
Participant o F 3 High $25- 25 Good Good
Mexico F 25 Good Good
I-3 8 School $30,000
Participant 3 High $25-
P t Mexico M3 High $25- 27 Excellent Poor
I-4 3 School $30,000
Participant Puerto Rico F 4 MA$40- 28 Excellent Good
I-5 4 $55,000
Participant 5 $40-
Participant Puerto Rico F 5 PhD$40- 35 Excellent Excellent
I-6 3 $55,000
This table shows information regarding eight variables that were taken into
consideration in the analysis. As can be seen, the ages among these participants varied
from 33-64. There were 4 females and 2 males. Their place of birth varied, with 2
participants from Puerto Rico, 2 from Cuba and 2 from Mexico. The number of years that
the participants have lived in this country range from 6 to 44. Two out of the six
participants have completed or are in the process of completing a Master's degree, and
one of the six participants has a Doctorate degree. All participants consider Spanish to be
their dominant language. In addition, all the participants reported in their demographics
questionnaire that they had Spanish-speaking friends and almost always spoke Spanish to
them. All but one of the participants reported that they have excellent proficiency in
Spanish, and three of the six claimed to have a good proficiency level in English. Only
one of them believed that his proficiency level in English was poor. Also, worth noting is
the considerable variation in annual income: three participants earned $25,000-$30,000,
two participants earned $40,000-$55,000 and one of them earned more than $60,000.
Table 2 shows the percentages of calques produced by each individual in the
written and oral exercises. Recall that only prompted data is discussed here; in other
words, the data included were obtained only from the oral question/answer exercise and
the written translation exercise only.
Table 2 Number and relative percentage of all calque occurrences for Group I
Written calques Oral calques
Number Percentages Number Percentages
Participant I- 1/
5/11 45% 5/15 33%
2/11 18% 0/13 0%
6/13 46% 8/16 50%
1/10 1% 0/11 0%
3/11 27% 2/15 13%
4/10 40% 3/15 20%
Total 21/66 32% 18/85 21%
Most of the participants did not fully complete either exercise due to time
constraints. Many were only able to sacrifice 20-30 minutes for the process. Although this
resulted in somewhat inconsistent participation, all data were considered valuable and are
considered in the analysis.
The second column in Table 2 presents the number of calques that each participant
employed in their writing, taken from the total number of translations that participants
completed. It is clear here that most participants finished only about half of 21 items. As
a result, the number of possible calques was reduced from 126 (21 items X 6 participants)
to 66. In order to compare these raw numbers, the next column converts each
participant's production to a percentage (number of items containing calques divided by
the number of items completed, then multiplied by 100). The resulting percentage can be
considered the participants' rate of calque production in the experimental tasks. Group I
as a whole produced a total of 21 calques out of 66 possibilities in the written exercise, a
rate of 32% calquing.
The results for the oral question/answer exercise were also impacted by the number
of exercises each participant was able to complete. These numbers are presented in the
fourth and fifth columns of Table 2, as raw numbers and percentages, respectively. In
this exercise, Group I produced a total of 18 calques out of 85 possible chances, for a rate
of 21%. We will see below that this was the smallest percentage of calque use of all three
Participants in Group II include those who came to the United States after the age
of eleven but before the age of eighteen. Table 3 presents the relevant demographic
information for the participants in
Table 3: Demographic background for Group II
Arrival Proficiency Proficiency
Nationality Gender Age Education Income age in Level in Level in
the U.S. Spanish English
Participant Cuba F 22 BA$10- 14 Excellent Good
Participant Cuba M 22 BA $150- 13 Excellent Excellent
Participant Mexico M 19 BA $10- 17 Excellent Poor
Participant Mexico M 21 BA$40- 12 Excellent Good
Participant Puerto F 19 High $10- Good Good
F 19 11 Good Good
11-5 Rico school 20,000
Participant Puerto A $10- 18
M 35 BA 18 Good Good
II-6 Rico 20,000
There were two females and four males in Group II. Five of the participants were
younger than twenty-two years old, while the sixth was in his 30s. The ethnic breakdown
was the same as Group I, with 2 Cubans, 2 Mexicans and 2 Puerto Ricans. All but one
participant were in the process of obtaining their Bachelor's degree at the time of the
All but one participant considered Spanish to be their dominant language. This is
interesting because according Silva-Corvalan (2001), these age groups usually adopt
linguistic elements around them rapidly in order to seek the acceptance of the
homogenous predominant group (102). In this case, though the young participants have
kept close contact with their first language, despite having resided in the United States for
several years. Four of the six participants rated their proficiency level in Spanish as
excellent, while the other two evaluated their Spanish as good. On the other hand, only
one person thought that his proficiency level in English was excellent, one rated it as poor
and the rest of the participants said that they had a good level of proficiency in English.
Most of the people in Group II earned between $10,000 to $20,000 per year, and
one was in the $40,000-$55,000 range. This relatively low income bracket may be at least
partially explained by the fact that five of the six participants were still students. The
other participant earned a yearly salary between $150,000 and $200,000.
Table 4 presents the occurrences of calques in the written and oral responses of the
participants in Group II.
Table 4: Number and relative percentage of calque occurrences for Group II
Written calques Oral calques
Number Percentage Number Percentage
Participant 111/ 14/21 67% 3/14 21%
Participant II- 2/ 45
5/11 45% 4/15 27%
Participant II-3/ 11 45 3/13 23
Participant II-4/ 6/11 55 5/14 36
Participant II-5/ 7
7/12 58% 5/15 33%
4/10 40% 4/15 27%
Total 41/76 54% 24/86 28%
As with the first group's findings, the second column illustrates the number of
calques that each participant used in his/her writing, out of the total number of
translations that each participant completed. The total percentage of calques in the written
exercise was a rate of 54%. The fourth column of table 4 presents the results for the oral
question/answer exercise. The group as a whole only produced a rate of 28% calques in
the question/answer exercise
This group includes people who were born in the United States or moved here
before the age of 11. Table 5 presents the relevant demographic information for the
participants in this group.
Table 5: Demographic background for Group III
Arrival Proficiency Proficiency
Ethnicity Gender Age Education Income age in Level in Level in
the USA Spanish English
ParticipantCuba M 19 BA$10- 1 Excellent Excellent
Participant F 21 BA$10 Born Good Excellent
Participant Cuba F 19 BA No Born Good Excellent
Participant Mexico F 19 BA$25- Born Excellent Excellent
Participant Mexico F 19 BA No 4 Good Excellent
Participant Mexico M 21 High $10- 8 Excellent Excellent
III-6 School 20,000
Participant Puerto $10-
M 21 BA Born Good Excellent
III-7 Rico 20,000
Participant Puerto No
M 21 BA 10 Good Good
III-8 Rico income
This group had a relatively young average age, ranging from 19 to 21. There were 3
Cubans, 3 Mexicans and 2 Puerto Ricans. In contrast to Groups I and II, which only had
participants that were born in other countries, Group III had four participants born in the
United States. There were 4 females and 4 males.
The level of education for this group was as high as in Group II. All participants
except one were in the process of finishing their bachelor's degree. Their overall income
was rather low, ranging between $10,000 and $20,000 per year although again this may
be explained by their student status. One person had a yearly salary of $25,000 to
$30,000, while two had no yearly income.
The participants in this group differed from those of the first and second groups in
that all but 2 considered their dominant language to be English. Of the other 2
participants, one said Spanish was his dominant language, and the other said that he
considered himself equally dominant in both English and Spanish. Most of the
participants in this group said that their level of proficiency in English was excellent,
while one subject indicated that his proficiency level in English was good. On the other
hand, three stated that their proficiency level in Spanish was excellent and five classified
it as good. All of them commented that Spanish was as important to them as English
because they use both languages to communicate with their family members.
Table 6 presents the number of occurrences in both the written and oral exercises
among Group III. The final percentage was calculated from a total number of 152 calques
possible (all the possible occurrences of calques within the written exercise). Note that in
this group most participants were able to complete both tasks.
Table 6. Number and relative percentage of calque occurrences for Group III
Written caiques Oral caiques
Number Percentage Number Percentage
Participant 111-1/ 5/21 24% 4/15 27%
Participant 111-2/ 11/21 52% 7/15 47
Participant 111-3/ 8/21 38 2/15 13
Participant 111-4/ 7/21 33 1/16 .08
Participant 111-5/ 4/13 31% 3/14 21%
Participant 111-6/ 5/13 38 4/15 27
Participant 111-7/ 10/21 48 7/16 44
Participant 111-8/ 3/21 14 2/16 12
Total 58/152 38% 33/118 28%
Group III produced calques in 38% of the written exercise and in 28% of the oral
exercise. This pattern is similar to that of Group I. There was a slight difference between
the oral results and the written results for Group III. The percentage of oral calques that
the participants produced was only 28%, compared to 38% for the written exercise.
The following section reviews these findings as a whole in an attempt to answer the
research questions that motivated the study. The first issue discussed is if there are
significant differences in the frequency of calques among the three age groups.
According to the results, Group II calqued the most, while Group I calqued the least. The
high incidence of calquing in Group II might be explained by the fact that it was
composed of individuals that came to the United States between the ages of eleven and
eighteen. Because they came after the age of eleven, it is possible that they have not fully
acquired the structures of English. Note that this does not mean that Group II's
proficiency level in English is poor, only that it is lower than their level of Spanish. These
results contradict Silva-Corvalan's (1994) study, in which she found that participants that
came to the U.S. after the age of eleven calqued the least. It might be argued that the
difference between results in the two studies could be due to the methodology employed
by each researcher. For instance, Silva-Corvalan (1994) only analyzed data from open-
ended interviews, while the present study analyzed prompted data in a written and an oral
exercise, which could lead to greater calquing than natural or spontaneous conversation.
In contrast to Group II, Group I produced the least calques in both exercises. Their
low numbers may be due to their late acquisition of English, an outcome which is
supported by Silva-Corvalan's (1994). The current results also agree with those of
Otheguy, Garcia and Fernandez (1989), who specified that the first generation (people
born in Cuba) calqued less than those of the second generation (people of Cuban descent
born in the United States). Therefore, these results show that generational background
does have an impact on the use of calques.
The second question that will be discussed is the nature of the relationship between
an individual's proficiency level in Spanish and English and his/her rate of calquing.
Recall that Otheguy & Garcia (1993) affirmed that calquing has no correlation with any
linguistic factors, ascribing it rather to the fact that no two cultures are identical, making
calquing necessary for effective communication to take place between speakers (136). In
the present study, level of proficiency in either language was shown to be a possible
explanation for the level of calque production only in certain individuals. For instance,
participant I-4 regarded himself as having a poor level of proficiency in English and an
excellent level of proficiency in Spanish. He produced the least calquing: only 1% of his
written answers contained calques, and he produced none in the question/answer
exercise. This may confirm previous affirmations that in order for calquing to take place,
the proficiency level in both English and Spanish has to be considered good to excellent.
For example, participant I-3 produced the most calquing in Group I, a rate of 46% of
calques in the written translation exercise and 50% in the question/answer exercise. This
participant reported good proficiency in both English and Spanish. Another participant
who showed a high percentage of calquing in comparison to the other participants was
III-7, who had a calquing rate of 48% in the written translation exercise and 44% in the
question/answer exercise. He considered himself to have good proficiency in Spanish and
excellent level in English. These results are supported by Silva-Corvalan (1994), where
she indicates that more proficient speakers are able to display linguistic creativity and
thus are able to incorporate calques into their speech (183). This evidence would lead us
to conclude that a person who is proficient in both languages will have a higher
production of calques than an individual who is not proficient in one of the languages,
although in the current data we can only base this conclusion on the data of some
The third research question asked how dependent variables such as education,
economic status, nationality and gender might impact the number of calques individuals
produced. Each group had individuals who calqued more than others and it is these
differences we can examine to determine if certain factors correlate to calque use. We
turn first to education.
Education does not seem to influence the production of calques among the
participants. The rates were similar across all levels of education. For example, those
participants that only had a high school diploma produced a rate of 40% of calques, those
with a Bachelor of Arts' degree had a rate of 41%, and those with a Doctorate degree had
a rate of 40% in calque production. The only participants that showed a slight difference
from the numbers above are those with a Master's degree, with a rate of 23%. The only
plausible explanation may be one that has nothing to do with education: although both
participants work and live in the U.S, these two reported that they go back to their
countries for 3 to 4 months at a time. This means that because they get the opportunity to
spend a considerable amount of time in their native country, they are able to maintain
direct contact with Spanish and therefore maintain their native-like language skills.
Another variable that was examined is economic status. Recall that this variable has
not been treated extensively in previous work, so it is of especial interest here. However,
the results for economic status appear to be inconclusive because there are contradictions
among the data. For example, participant 11-2, whose yearly income of $150,000-
$200,000 was among the highest produced one of the highest rates of calques among all
participants, while participant III-8, who had no income, produced one of the lowest rates
of calques among all three groups. Many other participants who had high incomes also
produced high numbers of calques, while a number of low-income participants produced
small numbers of calques and vice versa. These rates may lead us to believe high income
correlates to high calque use, but the data are not uniformly conclusive. Participants such
as I-2 belong in the high income bracket ($60,000 or more) but produced the smallest rate
of calquing among all three groups, while participant II-1 belongs in the low income
bracket, ($10,000-20,000) but produced the highest rate of calques in all the groups.
Based on these results, we can not determine conclusively the correlation between
economic status and the production of calques among Spanish-English bilinguals,
although this area indeed merits further attention.
The third variable analyzed is gender. There were slight differences between males
and females in the number of calques produced in all groups. Women produced a slightly
higher number of calques than their male counterparts, generally speaking. For example,
in Group II males produced a rate of 47% calques, while the females produced a rate of
64%. In Group I, the women were also the higher producers of calques, with an even
higher differential: the females had a rate of 40% of calques while the males had a rate of
14%. In Group III the women produced a rate of 40% calques, with males at 30%.
Table 7 Group results for gender
Gender Group I Group II Group III
Males 14% 47% 30%
Females 40% 64% 40%
Although these differences are large, it can still be theorized that gender may have some
impact on the production of calques. It is important to note that according to Silva-
Corvalan (2001), women are not usually initiators of new linguistic variables (98).
Women are often categorized as speaking conservatively and maintaining standard
grammatical, semantic and lexical variables. Women have been known to embrace new
linguistic variables only when they have no negative connotations within the community
(Silva-Corvalan 2001: 98). This is interesting in the light of these results since a certain
amount of stigma is associated with lexical interference such as calques (Clarkson 1977:
965), and yet we still see the females are producing more calques.
Table 8 Results for nationality
Puerto Ricans 36%
The last variable discussed is how the participants from different ethnic
nationalities (Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans) evidence different rates of calquing.
According to these results, nationality does not appear to impact the production of
calques, as the rates were similar across each nationality. For example, Cubans had a rate
of 43% written calques, Mexicans had a rate of 39% and Puerto Ricans produced a rate of
36% in the written translation exercise. The results of the oral question/answer exercise
contain a similar rate among all three nationalities Cubans produce a calquing rate of
25%; Mexicans a rate of 24% and Puerto Ricans had a total rate of 28%.
To summarize the above, the results show that gender is the only variable that can
be correlated with the production of calquing and education can not. This is supported by
Otheguy & Garcia (1993), but disputed by Silva-Corvalan (1994). According to Silva-
Corvalan (1994) educational background may be correlated with the production of
calques among Spanish-English bilinguals. The results for economic status are
inconclusive, but according to Silva-Corvalan economic status does impact the use of
calques. Lastly, nationality does not impact the production of calques.
This study has been able to provide tentative answers for all the research questions
posed. It has been shown that education, economic status, and nationality do not appear
to have substantial correlation with the production of calques in this participant group,
while generational group, proficiency level in Spanish and English and gender do
correlate with calque production. It could be argued that, since this study treats education,
economic status and gender individually, and does not correlate them with other factors,
such as their attitudes toward the maintenance of Spanish and/or how frequently they use
Spanish in their daily lives, this could be the cause for the results. Perhaps in future
works, each of these factors can further be associated with other factors, such as in Silva-
Corvalan (2002), for the outcome to prove otherwise.
Limitations and Future Direction
These results are of interest to the growing bilingual community, especially in
Florida. Nonetheless, there were several limitations to this study. The main drawback was
the number of exercises that the participants completed. Recall that the written translation
exercise contained twenty-one items, of which most participants answered only about
half. The same was true for the oral question/answer exercise, which was composed of 16
items total, of which participants again only answered a portion. Although percentages
were used to help normalize the results, this disparity may have altered the overall
findings. In future studies, it is important to insist on consistency in order to obtain strong
and more reliable results. Another limitation of the present study is the number of
females and males in each group. Group II and III had an equal distribution of males and
females but Group I did not. Future work should ensure an equal number of females and
males in each group in order for any analysis regarding the role of gender to be reliable
An additional limitation with the results is that participants self-reported their
proficiency levels in English and Spanish. This method is, of course, wholly subjective,
and is not corroborated by other data. For example, several participants in this study said
that they were equally proficient in both English and Spanish, but informal conversation
with them before and after data collection revealed to the researcher that they in fact had
difficulty expressing themselves in one of the languages. To avoid this drawback in
future work, proficiency levels should be determined in a more objective manner, for
example, as Sewell (2001) had her participants take a language test that tested their
proficiency levels in both French and English.
Another drawback of this study is that casual conversation was not analyzed.
Recall that the 2-3 minute open-ended interview with the participants yielded no
instances of calques. The lack of calques in the results may be related to three main
factors: time, the researcher and the tape recorder. Since participants were only provided
with 2-3 minutes for this portion, they had a tendency to provide very concise and simple
answers. Also, the presence of the researcher and the tape recorder caused several
participants to be uncomfortable, so that they either spoke English or asked the researcher
a lot of questions. For future studies it might be preferable to record long conversations
between individuals without the presence of the researcher.
A further limitation of my study is that the participants who were categorized as
poor or as belonging in the lower economic level were students. This possibly may be a
discrepancy because it is obvious that most students will not have a full time job and
therefore depend on their parents for financial support. In future work, researchers should
take into consideration the parent's economic status if students are involved, or attempt to
control for difference in lifestyles.
The purpose of this study was to find out which extralinguistic factors have an
impact on calque production and which do not. And, in spite of the potential drawbacks,
this study has been successful in supporting the findings of previous studies that showed
that extralinguistic factors such as education, economic status, and nationality do not
impact the production of calques, while proficiency level in both English and Spanish,
gender and generational background seem to influence the production of calques.
Protocol Title: Spanish-English bilinguals in Gainesville, Florida: A cross-generational study of the use of
Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study.
Purpose of the research study: To measure different linguistic features such as calques. A calque
is the meaning of a word that is transferred from one language to another, for example, application
(English) and aplicaci6n (Spanish). The word aplicacidn is not a word in Spanish but because of
the English influence the speaker may turn it into a word in Spanish.
What you will be asked to do in the study: First, you will complete a short questionnaire with your
demographic information and about your language use. Second, we will continue with a 10 minute
interview. Followed by a short oral and written translation exercise. Finally, you will allow the
researcher to use the questionnaires that you complete for linguistic analysis.
Time required: A total of approximately 30 minutes will be needed.
Risks: There are no anticipated risks to you by participating in this study.
Compensation: Participants will receive no compensation for their participation.
Benefits: Your participation in this study will allow us to understand better certain language choices that
bilinguals such as yourself make in your everyday lives. Consequently, we as researchers and
teachers will better understand the nature of language and how it can be taught and learned.
Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. The questionnaires
you fill out will not have any form of codification, and your name will not be asked for nor used.
Only the researcher's advisor and the researcher will have access to the questionnaires you filled
out in this project and the data that is audio recorded. Your name will not be used in any report
and all audio files will be destroyed when data analysis is complete.
Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for
Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without
Whom to contact if you have questions about the study:
Dorian Dorado, M.A. student in Spanish Linguistics, Department of Romances Languages and
Literatures, 170 Dauer Hall, PO Box 117405, 392 2016, email@example.com
Dr. Gillian Lord, Assistant Professor, Department of Romances Languages and Literatures, 170
Dauer Hall, PO Box 117405, 392 2016, firstname.lastname@example.org
Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study:
UFIRB Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; ph 392-0433.
I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I
have received a copy of this description.
Participant (Name & Signature):
1. Male Female
3. Place of birth
4. Places where you grew up
5. How long have you lived in the U.S.A
6. Nationality (i.e. Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican)
7. Where does your family live?
8. Have you visited a Spanish-speaking country? Which one?
For how long?
9. What is the highest level of education you have received?
Primary school High School Bachelors degree
Masters degree Doctorate Degree
10. Did you study Spanish in school? How many years?
11. What is your profession?
12. Estimated income (circle only one) $10,000-$20,000 $25,000-$30,000
13. Do you have friends that speak Spanish?
14. With what frequency do you speak Spanish to them?
Never 25% 50% 75% almost always
15. What do you consider to be your dominant language? Circle one
16. What is your proficiency level in Spanish?
Excellent Good Poor
17. What is your proficiency level in English?
Excellent Good Poor
WRITTEN TRANSLATION EXERCISE
Note: Spanish translations and possible calques are given here, although neither
was provided tothe participants.
1 Yesterday I went to the playground with my friend and her daughter because it
Spanish: patio (de escuela) Calque: patio dejuegos
2 On weekdays I usually go to work and go out for dinner.
Spanish: dias de trabajo Calque: dias de semana
3 My answering machine is broken!
Spanish: contestador automdtico Calque: mdquina de contestar
4. I get excellent grades at school.
Spanish: notas Calque: grados
5. Today I am going to ask for an application at Macy's.
Spanish: solicitud Calque: aplicaci6n
6. I get the newspaper everyday except on Saturdays.
Spanish: diario/peri6dico Calque: papel
7. How do you like the soup?
Spanish: Te gusta la sopa? Calque: C6mo te gusta la sopa?
8. Going to the movies is one way to have a good time.
Spanish: pasar un buen momento/pasarlo bien Calque: tener un buen tiempo
9. How did you like the movie?
Spanish: Te gust6 lapelicula? Calque: C6mo te gust6 lapelicula?
10. My dad is 6 ft tall?
Spanish: Mi padre mide 6'. Calque: Mi padre es 6".
11. Ana doesn't know how to read.
Spanish: Ana no sabe leer. Calque: Ana no sabe c6mo leer.
12. I am waiting for her.
Spanish: La estoy esperando. Calque: Estoy esperandopor ella.
13. We had respect for them.
Spanish: Nosotros les teniamos respeto.
Calque: Nosotros les teniamos respeto para ellos.
14. Now the house is 150,000 dollars.
Spanish: la casa cuesta Calque: la casa es
15. The carpet in your house is brown.
Spanish: la alfombra Calque: la carpeta
16. My sister has three credit cards.
Spanish: tarjeta/ tarjeta de cr&dito Calque: tarjeta de plastico
17. I have two more months of classes at the university.
Spanish: tengo dos meses mds Calque: tengo dos mds meses
18. I was working under several people.
Spanish: Estaba trabajando con varias personas.
Calque: Estaba trabajando debajo varias personas
19. I was born 10 miles from Mexico City.
Spanish: Naci a 10 millas de la ciudad de Mexico.
Calque: Naci 10 millas afuera de la ciudad de Mexico.
20. My parents are from a different generation.
Spanish: una generaci6n diferente Calque: una diferente generaci6n
QUESTION AND ANSWER ORAL EXERICSE
Note: Spanish translations and possible calques are given here, although neither
was provided tothe participants.
1. Do you love your car?
Spanish: Me encanta mi carro. Calque: Amo mi carro.
2. What do you do for fun?
Spanish: pasar un buen moment Calque: tener un buen tiempo
3. How tall is your mother?
Spanish: mide Calque: es
4. Do you like to bat at baseball games?
Spanish: golpear/ darle Calque: batear
5. Do you like to catch the ball at baseball games?
Spanish: agarrar/ coger Calque: cachar
6. What disturbs your serenity?
Spanish: molester Calque: disturber
7. Do you write letters to your mother
Spanish: cartas Calque: letras
8. Do you often assume that everything will be okay in the future?
Spanish: suponer Calque: asumir
9. Do you change your mind a lot?
Spanish: cambiar de opinion Calque: cambiar de mente
10. Did you & your friends like to work? (Nosotros)
Spanish: si/ nos gustaba Calque: si/ no nos gustdbamos
11. Who is the most important person in your life?
Spanish: la persona mas important Calque: la mas important persona
12. In order to pray, do you get on your knees?
Spanish: estar de rodillas Calque: estar en rodillas
13. Do you prefer to mop or sweep?
Spanish: trapear Calque: mopea
14. Do you get to work on time?
Spanish: tiempo Calque: en tiemp
15. Did you like high school?
Spanish: secundaria Calque: escuela alta
16. Do you like to attend school events?
Spanish: asistir Calque: tender
QUESTIONS FOR OPEN INTERVIEW
1. Tell me about your family. Describe them. Include details.
2. Give me driving directions to the Mall.
3. Tell me about a dream that you have had.
4. What do you like best about the United States? The least?
5. Tell me about a trip that you have taken in the past.
6. What makes you happy?
7. Tell me about your high school.
8. What are you dreams and goals for the future?
9. What do you like best about the University of Florida?
10. What do you like to do on the weekends?
LIST OF REFERENCES
American Heritage College Dictionary (1997). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Arlotto, A. (1972). Introduction to historical linguistics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Bloomfield, L. (1933). Language. New York: Holt.
Casagrande, J. (1954). Comanche linguistic acculturation. International Journal of
American Linguistics, 20, 140-151.
Clarkson, W. (1977). The Vernacular vs. Standard Spanish in the bilingual classroom:
Implications for teacher training programs for Chicanos. Hispania, 60, 965-967.
Dorado, D. (2002). A cross-generational study of the use of calques. Unpublished pilot
study, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Garcia, O., Fishman, J. A., Gertner, M. & Burunat, S. (1985). Written Spanish in the
United States: an analysis of the Spanish of the ethnic press. International Journal
of the Sociology of Language, 56, 85-98.
Hammink, J. E. (2000). A comparison of the code switching behavior and knowledge of
adults and children. Retrieved July 7, 2005, from http://www.web.ask.com.
Haugen, E. (1938). Language and immigration. Norwegian-American Studies and
Records, 10, 1-43.
Hockett, C. (1973). Man placee in nature. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hoffmann, C. (1991). Introduction to bilingualism. New York: Longman Singapore
Lozano, G. A. (1974). Grammatical notes on Chicano Spanish. The Bilingual Review, 1,
Montes Giraldo, J. (1985). Calcos recientes del ingles en espahol. Thesaurus, 40, 17-50.
Montes Giraldo, J. (2000). Algo mas sobre posibles calcos semanticos procedentes del
ingles. Boletin de la Academia Colombiana, 51, 97-99.
Otheguy, R. (1993). A reconsideration of the notion of loan translation in the analysis of
U.S. Spanish. In Roca, A. & Lipski, J. (Eds.), Spanish in the United States:
Linguistic contact and diversity (pp. 21-45). New York: Mouton de Gruyter
Otheguy, R. & Garcia, O. (1988). Diffusion of lexical innovations in the Spanish of
Cuban-Americans. In Orstein, J. & Bixler-Mirquez, D. (Eds.), Research issues and
problems in United States Spanish (pp. 203-241). Brownsville, Texas: Pan
Otheguy, R. & Garcia, O. (1993). Convergent conceptualizations as predictors of degree
of contact in U.S Spanish. In Roca, A. & Lipski, J. (Eds.), Spanish in the United
States: Linguistic contact and diversity (pp. 135-154). New York: Mouton de
Otheguy, R., Garcia, O., & Fernandez, M. (1989). Transferring, switching, and modeling
in West New York Spanish: An intergenerational study. International Journal of
the Sociology of Language, 79, 41-52.
Pei, M. (1978). Glossary of linguistic terminology. New York: Ancher books.
Sewell, M. (2001). The occurrence of calques in translation. Meta, 46, 607-615.
Silva-Corvalan, C. (1994). Language contact and change: Spanish in Los Angeles. New
York: Clarendon Press. (Reprinted )
Silva-Corvalin, C. (1995). Lexico-syntactic modeling across the bilingual continuum. In
Fisiak, J. (Ed.), Trends in linguistics, studies and monographs 81: Linguistic
change under contact conditions (pp.253-270). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.
Silva-Corvalin, C. (2001). Si,, i ,lillgu i\i' i y pragmdatica del espaiol. Washington, D.C.:
Georgetown University Press.
Smead, R. (1998). English loanwords in Chicano Spanish: Characterization and
rationale. The Bilingual Review, 23, 113-123.
Smead, R. & Clegg H. (1996). English calques in Chicano Spanish. In Roca, A. &
Jensen, J. (Eds.), Spanish in Contact: Issues in Bilingualism (pp. 123-129).
Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Trask, R L. (1997). A student's dictionary of language and linguistics. New York: St.
Martin's Press Inc.
Turano, A. (1974). The speech of little Italy. In Moquim, W. & Van Doren, C. (Eds.),
A documentary history ofItalian Americans. New York: Praeger.
Weinreich, U. (1953). Languages in contact. New York: Publications of the Linguistic
society of New York.
Whitney, W. D (1881). On mixture of language. Transactions of the American
Philological Association, 12, 5-26.
Dorian Dorado was born in Mexico City, Mexico, and has lived in the United
States most of her life. Consequently, she grew up speaking both Spanish and English.
Because of her bilingual background, she has always been interested in the linguistic
processes that are found in the speech of bilinguals. Due to her interest in this field, in
May 2006, she will be completing her Master of Arts degree in Spanish linguistics. She
also will further her education by completing her doctorate in Spanish linguistics,
specializing in Spanish-English bilinguals in the United States.