International Journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest


This paper examines the interaction of language-internal and language-external triggers in the formation of Latin American Spanish varieties. The focus of the paper is a scarcely studied morphological variant, namely the non-standard imperfects of the 2nd- and 3rd-conjugation: comer ‘to eat’ → comiba-, caer ‘to fall’ → caiba-, traer ‘to bring’ →traiba-, etc. The study first features a comprehensive dialectal and historical survey of these forms in Spain and Latin America. Later, it focuses on the factors that contributed to their success in traditional Latin American Spanish dialects vs. their relative infrequency in Spain. It will be argued that these forms spread as a result of the simultaneous effect of the intrinsic morphological instability of a particular verbal subclass in Spanish and sociodemographic factors specific to these traditional varieties. This study offers a rationale for the reassessment of the models of dialect contact traditionally applied to Latin American Spanish from the perspective of morphological variation.