hierarchy were those with greater wealth in land or livestock, or both; they tended to be of purer Caucasian descent; they were somewhat better educated; and in many cases they were either of the military or descended from military leaders. The lowest class was composed of Indian slaves and servants, poor mestizos, and rural peasants, regardless of race. This traditional culture shared with Mexico will be examined further, as will some of the ways in which New Mexico has diverged from the parental patterns in recent years. At the same time this may throw light on the alleged "uniqueness" of the Spanish-American in relation to other groups of Spanish descent in the Southwest today.
A familiar notion of American folk-linguistics is that the Southern highlander speaks "pure Elizabethan English." This is manifestly untrue. They do have a number of conservative traits of language . . . but these are counter- balanced by many innovations not found outside the area, as well as by innovations that they share with other regions. "Pure Elizabethan English" became extinct with the Elizabethans, but its elements persist, mixed with various innovations in ALL English dialects ( Gleason 1961:404).
The same argument holds for Spanish linguistic forms in New Mexico. Furthermore, on the alleged purity of New Mexican Spanish, Edmonson says, "Although many Hispanos tend to pride themselves on the purity of their Spanish, their dialect clearly embodies a large part of the Nahuatl vocabulary of Mexican" ( 1957:16).