The Pronoun Vos In Spanish Textbooks

by Katheryn Gonzalez

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gonzalo Campos-Dintrans

Abstract: This semester-long project is part of my URES with Professor Campos-Dintrans during Spring 2020. In it, we read and learned about the Spanish pronoun vos (you singular). As is well known, Spanish has two second person singular pronouns: tú (informal) and usted (formal). However, the pronoun vos is also widely used, especially in Central America, where my family is originally from. Indeed, I used vos and I did not even know it until this project. Professor Campos-Dintrans and I were studying the presence of this pronoun in Spanish language textbooks, because it does not seem to be really acknowledged in textbooks, so we wanted to measure how often vos was actually mentioned, if at all.

Methodolgy: What I did during my URES was looking for any mention of vos in textbooks, I checked every page, paying attention to the main text, footnotes, or mentions in the sidebar. When I found one, I would write it down, and make a note in a spreadsheet. Later on, Professor Campos and I would reconvene and we would go through all the data I was collecting. During the semester, I checked 13 textbooks, 8 from beginning levels and 5 from the intermediate level.

Results: We found that vos is hardly mentioned if at all, it would be acknowledged maybe once or twice, even though native speakers use it. From the data collected in the spreadsheets, I created graphs illustrating how often vos was mentioned.

Conclusion: As someone who grew up speaking Spanish at home, it was interesting to learn something about my language and focus on it and realize that there were differences between my dialect and others. In that sense, I felt different, but in a good way. It was educational but it made me kind of upset to realize that part of the language was being erased from teaching materials.

3 Replies to “The Pronoun Vos In Spanish Textbooks”

  1. What an enlightening study of the inherent bias in Spanish textbooks. Next steps might be studying the best way to introduce voseo to students, whether it be as a grammatical concept, or cultural, or both?

    1. What an interesting study, Katheryn. I agree—the voseo definitely deserves more attention in Spanish-language textbooks as well as in the classroom.

  2. Very interesting work. As one who likes studying Spanish, but doesn’t really know much, I really enjoyed this! With best wishes,

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