Changing the focus: An empirical study of "Focalizing ser" (‘to be’) in Dominican Spanish


  • Dunia Catalina Méndez Vallejo Princeton University


This article examines the perception and production of the Focalizing Ser (FS) structure by Dominican speakers living in three urban communities: Santiago de los Caballeros, Sosúa, and Santo Domingo de Guzmán. FS has received increasing attention over the past years and several studies have investigated it from various linguistic perspectives in Spanish varieties where it is typically found (e.g. Venezuelan Spanish and Colombian Spanish). Although previously reported in Dominican Spanish (Toribio 2002, Alba 2004), FS has still not been extensively analyzed in this variety. The results of three different tests (two acceptability judgment tests and one semi-production test) indicate that FS is certainly entrenched in Dominican speakers’ linguistic inventory and that certain focus types (e.g. FS-focused subject and object DPs, FS-focused CPs and IPs, FS- focused complex VPs, and FS-focused prepositional phrases) are more favorably perceived and more frequently produced across all FS dialects.


Information structure, Syntactic Variation, Focalizing Ser, Dominican Spanish


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Author Biography

Dunia Catalina Méndez Vallejo, Princeton University

Associate Director of the Spanish Language Program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures at Princeton University




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