Varieties of Spanish in the United States

Varieties of Spanish in the United States

Varieties of Spanish in the United States

Varieties of Spanish in the United States

Synopsis

Thirty-three million people in the United States speak some variety of Spanish, making it the second most used language in the country. Some of these people are recent immigrants from many different countries who have brought with them the linguistic traits of their homelands, while others come from families who have lived in this country for hundreds of years. John M. Lipski traces the importance of the Spanish language in the United States and presents an overview of the major varieties of Spanish that are spoken there.

Varieties of Spanish in the United States provides -- in a single volume -- useful descriptions of the distinguishing characteristics of the major varieties, from Cuban and Puerto Rican, through Mexican and various Central American strains, to the traditional varieties dating back to the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries found in New Mexico and Louisiana. Each profile includes a concise sketch of the historical background of each Spanish-speaking group; current demographic information; its sociolinguistic configurations; and information about the phonetics, morphology, syntax, lexicon, and each group's interactions with English and other varieties of Spanish. Lipski also outlines the scholarship that documents the variation and richness of these varieties, and he probes the phenomenon popularly known as "Spanglish."

The distillation of an entire academic career spent investigating and promoting the Spanish language in the United States, this valuable reference for teachers, scholars, students, and interested bystanders serves as a testimony to the vitality and legitimacy of the Spanish language in the United States. It is recommended for courses on Spanish in the United States, Spanish dialectology and sociolinguistics, and teaching Spanish to heritage speakers.

Excerpt

This book is the result of an entire academic career spent observing, evaluating, investigating, and promoting the Spanish language in the United States. It is intended to serve as a reference work for teachers, scholars, and interested bystanders, a testimony to the vitality of the Spanish language in the United States, its legitimacy as a means of self-expression, and the considerable scholarship that documents the variation and richness of Spanish in the United States. Well into the twenty-first century, the topic needs no introduction; the chapters speak for themselves. Nonetheless, my more than three decades of work on U.S. Spanish induces me to indulge in a bit of reflection on the growth of interest in Spanish within the United States as reflected in my own unforeseen career trajectory.

Like many linguists of my generation, my current research agenda bears little resemblance to my graduate training. An apostate electrical engineering student with a B.A. in mathematics, I entered graduate school in Romance linguistics at the University of Alberta. My graduate training was evenly divided between classic Romance philology and European structuralism (one of my professors was a former student of André Martinet) and general linguistics within the then-radical transformation-generative paradigm. My first love was historical linguistics, particularly phonology, and my doctoral dissertation (1974) dealt with the comparative historical phonology of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Romance linguistics has never been a North American pastime, and even before finishing graduate school I realized that my only opportunity for employment in the cutthroat academic job market of the 1970s was in a language department. Because Spanish was the Romance language I knew best, I landed a predissertation job (one of the terrible “all-but dissertation” jobs we enjoin our students against taking) at a small urban college in New Jersey. My theoretical and historical training were immediately shown to be useless in this setting, as was the Spanish that I had picked up by the seat of my pants during my undergraduate years in Texas, and from formal grammars. All my colleagues were Cubans, and a large number of my students were Puerto Rican, all speaking varieties of Spanish that bore little resemblance to anything found in textbooks and spoken at a rate of speed and with phonetic patterns that did not fit into the “ideal speaker-listener” and “ideal . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.