About Me

My research focuses on the variable morphosyntax of Spanish. I have published and presented multiple papers on morphosyntactic alternations. Through the study of such alternations, I explore the question as to which cognitive, social, and individual factors shape linguistic variation in general.

My current research focuses on the variable use of subject personal pronouns in Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Peninsular, and Puerto Rican Spanish. Particularly, continuing the approach developed in my book Cognitive, social, and individual constraints on linguistic variation: A case study of the pluralization of presentational haber in Caribbean Spanish (Cognitive Linguistics Research, De Gruyter Mouton), I explore how applying the analytical tools provided by Cognitive Linguistics to this showcase variable of Hispanic Sociolinguistics allows us to formulate a psychologically adequate theory of the constraints that govern morphosyntactic variation.

Contact Details

Jeroen Claes
KU Leuven – University of Leuven
Research unit Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL)
Blijde-Inkomststraat 21 (PO Box 3308)
B-3000 Leuven
Room 02.12
+32 472 57 32 24
jeroen.claes@kuleuven.be
QLVL member profile

 

Education

PhD, Linguistics

University of Antwerp December 2014

My PhD dissertation investigated a phenomenon known as presentational haber pluralization. In standard Spanish, presentational haber (‘there-to-be’) is an impersonal construction. From a construction-grammar perspective, this could indicate that the singular construction coexists with a pluralized schema. I hypothesize that in Caribbean Spanish, this alternation constitutes an ongoing linguistic change from below. Additionally, I present the hypothesis that haber pluralization is constrained by three general cognitive factors: markedness of coding, statistical preemption, and structural priming. To evaluate these hypotheses, I present a variationist analysis. In three recent samples of the varieties of Havana, Santo Domingo, and San Juan, I trace the grammatical and social distribution of the alternation, in order to establish whether and to which extent the variation points to an ongoing linguistic change from below and an alternation involving two variants of the presentational construction with haber that is constrained by these three general cognitive factors.

Overall, the results indicate that speakers of Caribbean Spanish pluralize the verb in similar proportions (Havana: 44.6%, N=934/2093; Santo Domingo: 46.7%, N=859/1841; San Juan: 41.4%, N=682/1649). The comparative sociolinguistic analysis (involving mixed-effect logistic regression, conditional inference trees, and random forests) displays little variation when it comes to grammatical constraints: in the three capitals, the pluralization is favored by NPs that refer to typical action-chain heads, the use of the pluralized variant in prior discourse and all verb tenses, minus the present and preterit. The sole difference is that, only in San Juan does the absence of negation support pluralization.

In contrast, the associations between haber pluralization and social groups vary more significantly according to the respective speech communities. In Havana, the alternation is linked to lower social class. In Santo Domingo,haber pluralization expresses middle-class membership. In San Juan, finally, the pluralization of 'haber' is associated to female gender. The results also suggest a significant interaction between age and social class, in the sense that younger speakers appear to associate haber pluralization to lower social class, whereas it is a typical feature of middle-class speech among older speakers. For none of the three communities, the data display style-shifting. These results suggest that the pluralization of haber constitutes an advanced change from below, which is constrained by the three general cognitive factors.

Master of Arts, Spanish Language, Literature, and Linguistics

University of Antwerp & University of Puerto Rico September 2008

Bachelor of Arts, French & Spanish Language, Literature, and Linguistics

University of Antwerp July 2007

Research

Postdoctoral Researcher

K.U. Leuven, Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics October 2015 - October 2016

In Cognitive Sociolinguistics, variation studies have mainly focused on the region-, style-, or group- specific meanings of nearly synonymous expressions. Much less attention has been dedicated to identifying the way generic cognitive constraints proposed by Cognitive Linguistics may explain why speakers sometimes prefer to use one particular expression. To increase our understanding of the influence of such cognitive constraints on these preferences, the project will examine a well- known - but notoriously hard to explain - alternation in Spanish, namely, the expression and omission of subject personal pronouns (e.g., yo/Ø hablo 'I/Ø speak').

The data will be drawn from sociolinguistic interviews with 120 individuals who represent five varieties of Spanish (Cuba, Spain, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Mexico). Using state-of- the-art statistical techniques, the proposed project will investigate how three generic cognitive constraints (structural priming, markedness of coding, and statistical preemption) and their interactions may explain/predict the (non-)expression of subject personal pronouns. With this case study, the project aims to increase our understanding of subject pronoun expression and of the way generic cognitive constraints shape the use of alternating, nearly synonymous expressions. This way, the project will contribute to both Cognitive (Socio)linguistics theory and our descriptive knowledge of the variation between expressed and omitted pronouns.

Research expertise

  • Caribbean and Latin American Spanish
  • Cognitive Construction Grammar
  • Cognitive Sociolinguistics
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Language Variation and Change
  • Statistical modeling for the language sciences in R Statistics
  • Semi-automatic data extraction and annotation with R Statistics

Academic service

  • Ad-hoc reviewer for Language Variation and Change
  • Ad-hoc reviewer for the Handbook of Spanish as a Heritage/Minority Language, edited by Kim Potowski
  • Ad-hoc reviewer for New Perspectives on Hispanic Contact Linguistics in the Americas, edited by Melvin González-Rivera and Sandro Sessarego
  • Ad-hoc reviewer for En torno a haber: Construcciones, usos y variación desde el latín hasta la actualidad, edited by Carlota Benito-Moreno and Álvaro Octavio de Toledo
  • Ad-hoc member of the scientific committee for the 17th International Morphology Meeting
  • Associate editor of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Romance Linguistics (Oxford University Press), with duties in the following areas of specialization: Caribbean Spanish, Sociolinguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, Morphosyntactic Variation, Corpus Linguistics, and L2 acquisition of Spanish.

Teaching

Guest Professor

Ghent University, Departement of Linguistics February 1, 2016 - June 30,2016

For the second semester of 2015 - 2016, I am the main instructor for Spanish Linguistics: Spanish of Latin America (Ghent University course ID A002050), a Master's course on the history and dialectology of Latin American Spanish.

Invited lectures

Various October 2015 - Present

1. Claes, J. (2016). Análisis de regresión: Taller [Regression analyses: Workshop]. Invited lecture delivered at: Workshop for MA students working on a thesis in Hispanic quantitative linguistics, Ghent, Ghent University, April 21, 2016.[PDF] 

2. Claes, J. (2016). Restricciones cognitivas, individuales y sociales sobre la variación lingüística: La construcción presentacional con haber en español caribeño [Cognitive, individual, and social constraints on linguistic variation: The presentational construction with haber in Caribbean Spanish]. Invited lecture delivered at: Seminario: lingüística española [LROM2517] (Prof. Dr. Barbara De Kock), Louvain-la-Neuve, Université Catholique de Louvain, March 15, 2016.[PDF] 

Spanish teacher

CVO Kempen September 2014 - June 2015

At CVO Kempen, a night school in the lovely town of Mol, I taught Spanish Level 1 to three groups of students. As a teacher, I value the development of oral expression skills highly. Therefore, although the classes evolved around a manual, I also created much course material, in particular, oral expression activities and grammar exercises.

Teaching expertise

  • Spanish as a second language
  • Dialectology and sociolinguistics of Latin American Spanish

Articles (11)

1. Claes, J. (under review). A Cognitive Sociolinguistic model of morphosyntactic alternations: A case study of subject pronoun expression in Cuban Spanish. Review of Cognitive Linguistics.

2. Claes, J. (under review). Cognitive and geographic constraints on morphosyntactic variation: The variable agreement of presentational haber in Peninsular Spanish. Belgian Journal of Linguistics.[PDF] 

3. Claes, J, & Johnson, D. E. (under review). Cognitive Linguistics and the predictability of effects: Agreement in English and Spanish existentials. Language Variation and Change.[PDF] 

4. Claes, J. (under review). Probabilistic grammar: The view from Cognitive Sociolinguistics. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics.[PDF] 

5. Claes, J. (2017). La pluralización de haber presentacional en el español peninsular: Datos de Twitter [The pluralization of presentational haber in Peninsular Spanish: Data from Twitter]. Sociolinguistic Studies, 11 (1), in press.[PDF] 

6. Claes, J. (2015). Competing constructions: The pluralization of presentational haber in Dominican Spanish. Cognitive Linguistics, 26 (1), 1-30. DOI: 10.1515/cog-2014-0006.[PDF] 

7. Claes, J. (2014). A Cognitive Construction Grammar approach to the pluralization of presentational haber in Puerto Rican Spanish. Language Variation and Change, 26 (2), 219-246. DOI: 10.1017/S0954394514000052.[PDF] 

8. Claes, J. (2014). La pluralización de haber presentacional y su distribución social en el español de La Habana, Cuba. Un acercamiento desde la gramática de construcciones [The pluralization of presentational haber in the Spanish of Havana, Cuba. A construction-grammar approach]. Revista Internacional de Lingüística Iberoamericana, 23, 165-187.[PDF] 

9. Claes, J. (2014). Sociolingüística comparada y gramática de construcciones: Un acercamiento a la pluralización de haber en las capitales antillanas [Comparative sociolinguistics and Construction Grammar: An approach to the pluralization of haber in the Antillean capitals]. Revista Española de Lingüística Aplicada/Spanish Journal of Applied Linguistics, 27 (2), 338–364. DOI: 10.1075/resla.27.2.05cla.[PDF] 

10. Claes, J. (2011). ¿Constituyen las Antillas y el Caribe continental una sola zona dialectal? Datos de la variable expresión del sujeto pronominal en San Juan de Puerto Rico y Barranquilla, Colombia [Do the Antilles and the continental Caribbean constitute one dialect area? Data from the variable expression of subject personal pronouns in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Barranquilla, Colombia]. Spanish in Context, 8 (2), 191-212. DOI: 10.1075/sic.8.2.01cla.[PDF] 

11. Claes, J, & Ortiz-López, L.A. (2011). Restricciones pragmáticas y sociales en la expresión de futuridad en el español de Puerto Rico [Pragmatic and social constraints on the expression of futurity in Puerto Rican Spanish]. Spanish in Context, 8 (1), 50-72. DOI: 10.1075/sic.8.1.03cla.[PDF] 

Book chapters (2)

1. Claes, J. (2017). Interaction among cognitive constraints: The case of the pluralization of presentational haber in Puerto Rican Spanish. In Melvin González-Rivera & Hilton Alers-Valentín (ed.), Current Trends in Puerto Rican Linguistics. New York, NY: Routledge.[PDF] 

2. Claes, J. (2016). La pluralización de haber presentacional en el español de La Habana: Interacción entre las restricciones cognitivas [The pluralization of presentational haber in the Spanish of Havana: Interaction among the cognitive constraints]. In Carlota de Benito Moreno & Álvaro Octavio de Toledo (ed.), En torno a haber: Construcciones, usos y variación desde el latín hasta la actualidad ( 169-190). Berlin: Peter Lang.[PDF] 

Monograph (1)

1. Claes, J. (in press). Cognitive, social, and individual constraints on linguistic variation: A case study of presentational haber pluralization in Caribbean Spanish. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton.

Dissertation (1)

1. Claes, J. (2014). The pluralization of presentational haber in Caribbean Spanish. A study in Cognitive Construction Grammar and Comparative Sociolinguistics. Antwerp: University of Antwerp PhD dissertation.[PDF] 

Corpus (1)

1. Claes, J. (2012). Caribe: A sociolinguistic corpus of Caribbean Spanish (Havana, Santo Domingo, and San Juan). 72 speakers, 39 hours of speech, 100 million words. [Access available upon request]. Antwerp: Self-published corpus.

In progress (1)

1. Claes, J. (in preparation). Cognitive constraints on Spanish Subject Pronoun Expression: Data from Cuban Spanish. Spanish in Context.

Upcoming talks (0)

No publications found for this category

Past talks (9)

1. Claes, J, & Johnson, D. E. (2016). Cognitive constraints on language variation: Agreement with English presentational there be and Spanish presentational haber. Paper delivered at: New Ways of Analyzing Syntactic Variation II, Ghent, Ghent University, May 19-20, 2016.

2. Claes, J. (2014). La pluralización de haber impersonal en las capitales antillanas. Un acercamiento desde la gramática de construcciones y la sociolingüística comparada [The pluralization of impersonal haber in Caribbean Spanish. An approach from Cognitive Construction Grammar and Comparative Sociolinguistics]. Paper delivered at: Interfaces IV, Leuven, University of Leuven, June 4, 2014.

3. Claes, J. (2014). The pluralization of presentational haber in Caribbean Spanish. A study in Cognitive Construction Grammar and Comparative Sociolinguistics. Paper delivered at: CogLingDays 6, Ghent, University of Ghent, December 11-12, 2014.

4. Claes, J. (2013). "Es habían porque eran más de uno." The variable agreement of presentational haber in Dominican Spanish. Paper delivered at: Experimental Approaches to Perception and Production of Language Variation (EXAPP), Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen, March 19-22, 2013.

5. Claes, J. (2013). La pluralización de haber impersonal en el español de La Habana, Cuba. Un análisis socio-construcionista. [The pluralization of presentational haber a socio-constructionist approach]. Paper delivered at: XIVe Colloque International de Linguistique Ibéro-Romane, Montpellier, University of Montpellier III, May 29-31, 2013.

6. Claes, J. (2013). La pluralización de haber impersonal en las capitales antillanas. Un acercamiento desde la gramática de construcciones y la sociolingüística comparada [The pluralization of impersonal haber in the Antillean capitals. An analysis in Cognitive Construction Grammar and Comparative Sociolinguistics]. Paper delivered at: Hispanic Linguistics Symposium 2013, Ottawa, University of Ottawa, October 17-20, 2013.

7. Claes, J. (2013). The pluralization of presentational haber in Caribbean Spanish. A study in Cognitive Construction Grammar and Comparative Sociolinguistics. Paper delivered at: New Ways of Analyzing Variation 42, Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie Mellon University & University of Pittsburg, October 17-20, 2013.

8. Claes, J. (2012). ¿Había dos niños en el parque o Habían dos niños en el parque? The pluralization of haber in Puerto Rican Spanish. Paper delivered at: Sociolinguistics Symposium 19, Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, August 21-24, 2012.

9. Claes, J. (2012). Variationist sociolinguistics and cognitive construction grammar. A case-study of the variable agreement of presentational haber in Dominican Spanish. Paper delivered at: New Ways of Analyzing Syntactic Variation Workshop, Nijmegen, Radbout Universiteit Nijmegen, November 15-17, 2012.

Submitted talks (0)

No publications found for this category

R scripts (5)

The R scripts below are released "as is" under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license, without any warranty. You may use them at your own risk, provided you respect the terms of the license.

1. Claes, J, & Johnson, D. E. (2016). R code used for Claes & Johnson, under review. Antwerp: Self-published script.[R code] 

2. Claes, J. (2015). Corpus del Español Collostruction Analysis: A program for R to perform collostruction analysis on frequency data from Corpus del Español. Antwerp: Self-published R script.[R code] 

3. Claes, J. (2015). sum_stats: Better summary statistics for glmer, glm, and ctree. Antwerp: Self-published R script.[R code] 

4. Claes, J. (2015). Rbrul Bootstrap Confidence Intervals Patch. Version 0.8. Antwerp: Self-published R script.[R code] 

5. Claes, J. (2015). findVerbs: Extract and annotate verbs from XML files generated by the Stanford POS tagger. Antwerp: Self-published R script.[R code] 

Datasets (4)

The datasets below are released "as is" under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license, without any warranty. You may use them at your own risk, provided you respect the terms of the license by correctly citing the publications in which they are discussed.

1. Claes, J, & Johnson, D. E. (2016). Dataset: Existential agreement variation with There BE in the British National Corpus. Antwerp: Self-published dataset.[PDF] 

2. Claes, J. (2015). Dataset: haber pluralization in Santo Domingo. Antwerp: Self-published dataset.[PDF] 

3. Claes, J. (2015). Dataset: haber pluralization in Havana. Antwerp: Self-published dataset.[PDF] 

4. Claes, J. (2015). Dataset: haber pluralization in San Juan. Antwerp: Self-published dataset.[PDF]