Spoken and written register variation in Spanish: A multi-dimensional analysis1

Douglas Biber, Mark Davies, James K. Jones, Nicole Tracy-Ventura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


There have been few comprehensive analyses of register variation conducted in a European language other than English. Spanish provides an ideal test case for such a study: Spanish is a major international language with a long social history of literacy, and it is a Romance language, with interesting linguistic similarities to, and differences from, English. The present study uses Multi-Dimensional (MD) analysis to investigate the distribution of a large set of linguistic features in a wide range of spoken and written registers: 146 linguistic features in a twenty-million words corpus taken from nineteen spoken and written registers. Six primary dimensions of variation are identified and interpreted in linguistic and functional terms. Some of these dimensions are specialised, without obvious counterparts in the MD analyses of other languages (e.g., a dimension related to discourse with a counterfactual focus). However, other Spanish dimensions correspond closely to dimensions identified for other languages, reflecting functional considerations such as interactiveness, personal stance, informational density, argumentation, and a narrative focus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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