On the meanings and functions of grammatical choice: The Spanish first-person plural in written-press discourse
Miguel A. Aijón Oliva
Grammatical persons and their variable referential scopes play an important role in the configuration of discourse and in the achievement of communicative goals. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the use of the Spanish first-person plural from the viewpoint of morphosyntactic choice and style construction. The study focuses on clauses with unexpressed subjects, which in the case of nosotros ‘we’ are by far the more frequent option. A written-press corpus is analyzed whose materials are distributed into five different textual genres, while participants are characterized through two psychosocial features: Socioprofessional identity and gender. The overall frequencies of first-person plural subjects, as well as the rates of audience-exclusive vs. -inclusive uses, are calculated according to each external factor. Subsequent qualitative analysis shows that the choice of the first-person plural situates discourse in an intermediate zone along the continuum from subjectivity to objectivity, helping to shape an intersubjective perspective, most clearly in its inclusive uses. It is also concluded that the qualitative, interactional facet of linguistic choice is by no means independent of statistical variation patterns: Both types of data contribute to the understanding of morphosyntactic choices as creative stylistic resources.