Irene Moyna, associate professor and head of the Department of Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University, analyzes variation in informal address forms (vos/tú) in Uruguayan popular music lyrics, in particular, those of tropically influenced rhythms locally known as cumbia.
Uruguayan cumbia is subject to conflicting identities, pulled at once by the requirement of representing credibly its Caribbean roots linked linguistically to standard tú, while embracing the local variety represented by vernacular vos. The analysis of 400 sets of cumbia lyrics demonstrates a complex interplay between second-person usage and both generation and theme. The earliest bands employed tuteo categorically, thus indexing geographic and social alterity, while the later groups were more likely to employ voseo. Theme was also a strong predictor of usage, with tuteo preferred for romantic songs for all periods. In this regard, cumbia aligns with other Uruguayan styles, which continue to prefer the standard form for idealized love.
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