Through a comment on an earlier entry I’ve discovered a blog called Romanika, started in January by “a college student with a passion for the Romance Languages/Linguistics.” He not only has a passion for the languages, he has the kind of eye and ear for detail that is impossible to learn and makes him an invaluable source for all sorts of fascinating stuff that had escaped my notice. In his “first true entry,” he discusses the social implications of the voseo (use of vos as a general second-person singular pronoun) in Central America, contrasting it at the end of the entry with the Argentine use I’m familiar with (where it is used freely at all levels of society as a proud mark of Argentineness). In his next entry he describes the difference between attitudes toward the short forms of the verb estar ‘to be’ in Portuguese and Spanish:
I had noticed that in Brazil syncopated forms of the verb «estar» (to be) are used. This occurs especially in the present and preterit, i.e.:
[present tou for estou, tás for estás, &c; preterit tava for estava, tavas for estavas, &c]
At one time, I thought that these forms were solely found in Brazil. However, they are just as much used in Portugal. In both countries, the syncopated forms are the spoken norm. In the written form, they are non-standard. On writing on the internet, more times than not, one finds the shortened forms. In both sides of the Atlantic, these forms have gotten much social acceptance. They are used by all people, in all levels of society. This is confirmed by Vero, who, in our letters and internet conversations, always uses these forms. She says that even her professors at school do this; that only the language purists use the ‘standard’ forms. That is, in both countries, the spoken standard is already that of the syncopated forms. It is not socially marked, except in highly formal situations. That is, the action of using the ‘standard’ forms in a normal conversation will give one an image of being pedantic…
This is interesting because this is not the case in Spanish. In this language, one finds too the syncopated forms of the verb «estar», in pretty much the same way: with «es-» removed. However, here, it is socially disregarded. One will find people who say «toy, tás, tá» for standard «estoy, estás, está», but will be socially marked. While in Portuguese songs, particularly from Brazil, I find all the time «tô» for «estou», I have never found so in Spanish ones, «toy» for «estoy». In Spanish, these same scheme might be accepted in certain regions, enclaves where it is used. But outside there, it will have a taste of regional and sub-standard, or even, ignorant and rural.
Since then he’s discussed rhotacism in Venezuela (eg «\er negro\» for el negro ‘the black one’), leísmo in Madrid (the use of the indirect pronoun as a direct object), and Occitan/Provençal, among other things. I absolutely love this stuff, and am delighted to have found the site.