A semantic analysis of bilingual compound verbs in two contact Spanish communities

Keywords: bilingual compound verbs, semantic domains, Northern Belize, Yucatan Peninsula, ethnolinguistic identity, bilingual corpora


Although previous work has contributed to our knowledge of bilingual compound verbs (BCVs) in different code-switching varieties, there is scant research on the semantic nature of these innovative constructions. To fill this gap, the present study examines semantic aspects of BCVs in Northern Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, two sociohistorically connected communities where Spanish hacer ‘do’ BCVs have been attested. Drawing on two datasets, we analyzed the semantic domains that are most open to other-language lexical verbs as well as the potential use of these structures as identity markers. The analysis of 1,140 BCVs (903 in Northern Belize and 237 in Yucatan) revealed that whereas ‘education’ particularly favored English lexical verbs in Northern Belize, ‘nourishment’ was the semantic sub-category most open to Yucatec Maya lexical verbs in the Yucatan Peninsula. Notably, only hacer BCVs from Yucatan evince the incorporation of cultural elements and linguistic practices such as albur ‘word play’ to index a Yucatec Maya ethnolinguistic identity. Our findings highlight the importance that the nature of bilingualism and community linguistic norms have on the semantic use of BCVs.


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How to Cite
Balam, O., Pérez Leutza, L., Michalski, I., & Parafita Couto, M. del C. (2024). A semantic analysis of bilingual compound verbs in two contact Spanish communities. Research in Corpus Linguistics, 12(1), 140–170. https://doi.org/10.32714/ricl.12.01.06