Generation and Spanish Language Use in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas

By Anderson-Mejias, Pamela L. | Southwest Journal of Linguistics, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Generation and Spanish Language Use in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas


Anderson-Mejias, Pamela L., Southwest Journal of Linguistics


ABSTRACT. This article presents preliminary results from two long-term, mixed design qualitative and quantitative studies of Spanish language usage in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. In these two research series, interview data were collected and the use of Spanish was analyzed using critical discourse analysis. In order to better understand the patterns of language maintenance and shift in this region, an expanded model of the GENERATION construct is presented. The analyzed data are then discussed employing the expanded generation model. The Spanish of first through fifth generation consultants is described, as they move away from the immigration experience. Although results are preliminary, clear distinctions among the five generations are observed. Further research and analyses are subsequently suggested. *

INTRODUCTION. Research on the contact situation between Spanish and English in the U.S. has consistently documented an intergenerational shift from the former to the latter (see e.g. Lopez 1978, Veltman 1988, Bills 1989, Sole 1990, Pease-Alvarez 1993, Bills, Hernandez-Chavez, & Hudson 1995 and Rivera-Mills 2001, inter alia). In general terms, researchers have documented the unidirectional shift to English in this nation for many populations from various regions around the world, often between the second and third generation. However, societal language shift away from Spanish to English does not appear to follow the traditional three generation pattern in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (LRGV), perhaps due in part to the large Spanish speaking population encountered there, which continually increases as a result of the arrival of first generation immigrants (cf. 2000 U.S. Census and updates at www.census.gov). Studies such as those of Mejias, Anderson-Mejias and Carlson (2002, 2003) have supported this change in the pattern of shift. Thus, the continuum paradigm suggested in works by Kouritzin (1999) and Wong Fillmore (1991), in which intergenerational language loss occurs subtly over a long period of time, may account for this slowed loss.

In order to further explore this phenomenon, the research offered here presents preliminary results from a long-term, mixed design qualitative and quantitative study of language usage in the LRGV. Works by Milroy (1980), as well as the standards in sociolinguistic language data collection established by scholars such as Labov (1972) and Hymes (1974), informed the practical techniques utilized in the data elicitation for this study. In the initial phase of the project, trained Hispanic research assistants under the direction of the principal investigator (PI) began collecting information on the topic of DICHOS and CORRIDOS, and included personal narratives. A subsequent study built on the original data and elicited speech samples employing an expanded instrument. Recorded language generated from the two data sets were analyzed using various procedures of critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1995), including text and grammatical analysis. Results suggest that the variable of generation in South Texas clearly impacts Spanish language use there, and is the topic of this article.

1. DEFINITION OF GENERATION. Discussions in the literature on language shift across generations frequently present the concept of GENERATION as a homogenous construct. That is, the 1st generation uniformly represents foreign born immigrants, with subsequent generations of the children and grandchildren of the first generation born in the U.S. However, for the purposes of this study I define generation on a broader scope; the term does not refer to a uniform concept but rather to a possibly variable order of birth among family members, which may be non-uniform in nature. Thus, for this investigation, generation is defined as follows:

1st generation: consultant was born outside the U.S. 2nd generation: consultant was born in the U.S. with either one parent or both parents born outside the U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Generation and Spanish Language Use in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.