Pronouns of Address in Spanish-Language Textbooks: The Case for vos


  • Keith Mason Ph.D.,

    1. Princeton University
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      University of Michigan is Lecturer of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.

  • Kenneth Nicely M.A.T.

    1. Cave Spring High School
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      University of Virginia is Teacher of Spanish at Cave Spring High School, Roanoke, Virginia.


ABSTRACT  The voseo is a frequently used second person singular form of address in many New World varieties of Spanish. Unfortunately, most textbooks of Spanish regularly treat the use of til, usted, ustedes, and vosotros, but ignore vos. This article includes a survey of 37 first-year secondary and postsecondary Spanish textbooks for their coverage of the voseo. All texts were carefully analyzed via a page-by-page survey of explanations, tables of contents, readings, marginal glosses, and indexes. Results of the survey revealed that only 16 percent of the analyzed texts included any reference to the voseo. The article also makes recommendations for the inclusion of the voseo in future textbooks of Spanish and in class instruction. Indeed, the vos may be considered as the simple addition of one more vocabulary item that could improve students' communicative competence in Spanish.

Several factors support an increased attention on vos: our students have contact with a number of native speakers who regularly use vos. This contact is between our students and Central and South Americans both as immigrants in the United States and through contact with native speakers when our students travel and study in Central and South America. Therefore, the ever-increasing contact with dialect speakers exhibiting vos requires increased attention to this important form of address in pedagogical materials and class lessons at all levels.