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Review of  The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics

Reviewer: Whitney Chappell
Book Title: The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics
Book Author: Manuel Díaz-Campos
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Issue Number: 23.3312

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EDITOR: Manuel Díaz-Campos
TITLE: The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics
SERIES TITLE: Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Wiley-Blackwell
YEAR: 2011

Whitney Chappell, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Ohio State University


The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics includes 35 chapters on
sociolinguistic topics across dialects of Spanish from 42 different contributing
linguists. After a brief introduction by the editor, the chapters are divided
into six broad sections: Phonological Variation; Morphosyntactic Variation;
Language, the Individual, and the Society; Spanish in Contact; Spanish in the
United States, Heritage Language, L2 Spanish; and Language Policy/Planning,
Language Attitudes and Ideology.

The first section on phonological variation explores different approaches to
investigating internal and external phonological change in Latin America and Spain.

The first chapter, “Laboratory Approaches to Sound Variation and Change” by
Laura Colantoni, discusses the importance of experimental techniques in
sociophonetics and explores previous research that has utilized these
techniques. A review of the literature on vocalic, consonantal, and prosodic
variation is included, and Colantoni highlights the areas in which laboratory
research is lacking, e.g. studies on nasal and affricate variation. Finally, the
author advises that experimental work must be rooted in theoretical approaches,
allowing linguists to test theories about sound change.

Antonio Medina-Rivera’s “Variationist Approaches: External Factors Conditioning
Variation in Spanish Phonology” presents a review of the literature on social
factors of importance to Spanish variation and discusses the external factors
found to be the most relevant across studies in Hispanic sociolinguistics, such
as gender, class, and age. Stylistic factors, such as careful vs. casual speech,
task, and topic are found to also influence variation, and in spite of the
complications social factors may bring to a study, the author argues that a
thorough analysis of extralinguistic factors is crucial to understanding the
phonological variation at work across dialects.

Chapter three, “Internal Factors Conditioning Variation in Spanish Phonology” by
Francisco Moreno-Fernández, addresses linguistically-based hypotheses and
tendencies in processes of variation and sound change. Distributional factors,
such as syllable position, contextual factors, such as the assimilation or
dissimilation of two sounds, and external factors such as contact with other
languages all play an important role. Based on the tendencies in Spanish,
Moreno-Fernández creates a hypothetical strength hierarchy of the influence of
internal factors on phonological variation: distributional factors > contextual
factors > grammatical factors > lexical factors > markedness factors > natural
factors (59).

In Chapter four, “Socio-phonological Variation in Latin American Spanish”, John
M. Lipski explores the robust phonological variation in Latin America, focusing
on the processes that most commonly affect syllable onsets (/d/, /tʃ/, /ʎ/, /s/,
and voiced stops), nuclei (vowel raising, reduction, and syllabic consonants),
and codas (/s/, /r/, /l/, and nasals), along with a brief review of some notable
prosodic variation across dialects. Lipski describes the geographical variation
along with a broad view of the phonological and social factors that have been
known to influence phonological variation.

In “Sociophonological Variation and Change in Spain” (Chapter 5), José Antonio
Samper Padilla discusses issues similar to those in Chapter four with a focus on
Spain. The author addresses the variation that commonly takes place across Spain
for syllable-final /s/, /r/, and /n/, intervocalic /d/, variation between /s/
and /θ/ in Andalusia, and variable frication or affrication of /tʃ/ in Eastern
Andalusia. He also provides frequency breakdowns of the realizations of the
variants and a brief analysis of the social factors most predictive of
variation: sex, age, or sociocultural level.

The second section of the handbook investigates morphosyntactic variation in

This section begins in Chapter six with a contribution from Scott A. Schwenter,
entitled “Variationist Approaches to Spanish Morphosyntax: Internal and External
Factors”. Schwenter first addresses the emergence of morphosyntactic variation
studies and the early challenges they faced when compared to studies on
phonological variation. The author then turns to several case studies on
variation of epistemic adverbs and mood choice, accusative ‘a’, and ‘lo’/ø
variation to determine the factors most predictive of the morphosyntactic
variants. Some of his main findings include the fact that temporal reference
greatly influences mood choice, animacy of subject and direct object (DO)
constrain accusative ‘a’ use, and both interrogative and negative sentences
condition ‘lo’/ø variation. Schwenter notes that limited research on external
factors is available but that Reig Alamillo (2009) finds age, education and
gender significant factors in null DO realizations.

In Chapter seven, Rena Torres Cacoullos addresses “Variation and
Grammaticalization”, whereby grammatical constructions emerge from discourse
patterns as speakers choose between different forms with related discourse
functions. The author discusses the process in which retention of a form’s
earlier meaning occurs followed by generalization, which in turn leads to
grammaticalization. She focuses on tense-aspect-mood variation, progressive
‘estar’ + verb(ndo), and preterit vs. present perfect use before discussing the
fate of the older forms. Ultimately, Torres Cacoullos promotes a variationist
method to investigate grammaticalization in progress through frequency changes
within a community.

“Morphosyntactic Variation in Spanish-Speaking Latin America” (Chapter eight) by
Paola Bentivoglio and Mercedes Sedano offers a targeted analysis of Latin
American morphosyntactic variation, presenting the conclusions from studies
exploring eight specific phenomena: the variation is discussed between (1)
‘para’-‘pa’, (2) ‘aquí’-‘acá’ and ‘allí’-‘allá’, (3), non-pluralized and
pluralized ‘haber’, (4) synthetic and analytic future constructions; and an
analysis of factors conditioning (5) relative ‘que’, (6) pseudocleft
constructions with ‘ser’, (7) dequeísmo, and (8) queísmo across dialects of
Latin America. After reviewing the literature on these subjects, the authors
conclude that while one form’s use may vary quantitatively by sociolinguistic
levels, it will hardly ever vary qualitatively, and other than ‘í’ and ‘á’
demonstratives, a functional explanation can be applied to the changes in Latin
American dialects in spite of the education and attitudinal pressures against
the functional solutions.

In Chapter 9, “Morphosyntactic Variation in Spain”, María José Serrano explores
the issues raised by earlier chapters in this section, but with a focus on
variation within Spain. Serrano briefly reviews the literature on mood choice,
-ra/-se variation in the imperfect subjunctive, simple versus progressive future
use, subject expression, dequeísmo, present perfect and preterit variation,
verbal periphrasis, leísmo, clitic duplication, and terms of address. The author
then explains the insufficiency of analyzing one form’s use over another without
an analysis of the discourse-pragmatic factors that condition its use. Even so,
she argues that these discourse-pragmatic approaches are not sufficient, and
initiative or cognitive approaches that emphasize the speaker’s agency in
creating or shifting characteristics (see Aijón Olivia 2008) better explain the
cognitive mechanisms at work in morphosyntactic variation. The author calls for
future studies to take into consideration semantic-pragmatic factors, style, and
cognitive perspectives.

Part III investigates “Language, the Individual, and the Society”.

The section begins with a contribution from Richard Cameron entitled “Aging,
Age, and Sociolinguists” (Chapter 10). In this chapter, Cameron discusses
discursive construction, indexicality, and constraints on variable realization;
however, he notes that in the field of Hispanic sociolinguistics, little work
has been done outside of analyzing age in relation to variable constraint
behavior. Age within sociolinguistics has been primarily helpful in determining
changes in progress within a dialect, as older speakers may behave differently
than younger speakers in apparent time studies with respect to voiced or
devoiced /ž/, intervocalic /d/ realization, or coda /s/ realization, among other
examples. Cameron notes that age can also represent the identity of the speaker
or inferred ideologies based on speech, and much more information is needed
about the aging process to have a thorough understanding of age and aging’s
relationship with speech.

Chapter 11 is “Gender and Variation: Word-final /s/ in Men’s and Women’s Speech
in Puerto Rico’s Western Highlands” by Jonathan Holmquist, a discussion of
divergences in men and women’s phonological behavior in Castañer Spanish.
Holmquist notes a tendency across dialects of Spanish for women to avoid the
stigmatized variant and promote prestigious linguistic change. In his data,
Holmquist finds similar /s/-deletion rates and constraints for men and women:
there is greater deletion before a pause, less deletion before consonants, and
the lowest rate before vowels. An analysis of genders across age groups showed
interesting results, as younger males appear to delete /s/ more before vowels,
while younger women are less likely to delete in this position. When professions
are taken into account, teachers are more conservative in their /s/-deletion
than business people, who are in turn more conservative than farmers, and women
in each group delete /s/ less than their male counterparts. Holmquist concludes
that young women with open social ties resist /s/-deletion, particularly before
vowels, as the youngest generation has been more socially separated by gender
than the middle class and older generations (see Cameron 2005).

In Chapter 12, Diane R. Uber explores “Forms of Address: The Effect of the
Context”, first explaining the forms’ historical development out of Latin. Uber
then presents a study on Bogotá, Colombia terms of address, in which she finds
variability of use between the ‘tú’ (T) and ‘Ud.’ (U) forms: certain places
included in her study preferred U, while other places preferred T. However, in
spite of the variability, a power dynamic still seemed to exist between the
forms, as illustrated by asymmetrical T/U forms of address, which Uber frames
within Brown and Levinson (1987)’s politeness theory. Additionally, Uber finds
that while there are differences in terms of address across the many dialects of
Spanish, there are also some consistencies: ‘Usted’ is generally used with those
having a perceived high status, older individuals, and strangers, while ‘tú’ or
‘vos’ is employed among those who have known or worked with each other for a
time, and the determining factors for selection are power, on the one hand, and
solidarity, on the other.

Manuel Díaz-Campos discusses “Becoming a Member of the Speech Community:
Learning Socio-phonetic Variation in Child Language” in Chapter 13, in which he
first explores children’s variation in word-final /ɾ/ and intervocalic /ð/
production in Spanish. Díaz-Campos (2001, 2004, 2006) finds that while younger
children produce the norms in their direct social environment, approximating
deletion levels that are normal for their parents’ social class, by age 4;5 the
lower-class children begin to reverse deletion patterns, approximating the more
conservative dialect of Spanish spoken in schools. Díaz-Campos concludes that
the acquisition of socio-phonetic variation occurs early on in the speech of
children in both Spanish and English, and as children learn the social meanings
associated with variants in the adult model, they begin to construct identities
based on language use in the speech community. The author notes that more
studies should focus on child-directed speech to better understand the adult
models with which children are presented.

“The Relationship between Historical Linguistics and Sociolinguistics” by Donald
N. Tuten and Fernando Tejedo-Herrero (Chapter 14) discusses the goals and
methods of the new hybrid field of historical sociolinguistics along with the
challenges it faces. While traditional historical linguistics tends to downplay
the importance of social variation, historical sociolinguistics seeks to explain
social variation and change historically through agentive speaker choices across
varied social contexts. Even given the limitations of the historical data, some
approaches have been particularly successful. For example, the sociophilological
work of Robert Wright illuminated the field’s linguistic understanding of the
Middle Ages, dialect mixing and dialect formation studies have advanced
knowledge of linguistic changes in Spanish, and the development of Spanish has
been investigated in more depth through research on standardization over time as
a sociolinguistic phenomenon. Other growing fields such as historical analysis
of discourse and pragmatics, language contact, and the social history of
languages show great promise as well, and with the development of historical
electronic corpora, the field will be able to continue to advance.

The third section concludes with a chapter by Kimberly Geeslin, “The Acquisition
of Variation in Second Language Spanish: How to Identify and Catch a Moving
Target”. Geeslin first discusses variation and L2 learning within second
language acquisition (SLA) theories, followed by some generalizations about L2
Spanish variation and the broader implications of these studies. Through an
analysis of horizontal variation (Adamson and Regan 1991), or non-native speaker
variation that parallels variation that occurs in native speakers’ speech,
Geeslin investigates systematic L2 grammars’ (Corder 1967) variation with ‘ser’
vs. ‘estar’, mood selection, leísmo, /s/-weakening, /θ/ use, and intonation.
Similarities across studies include that task effects are common for different
proficiency levels and grammatical structures, sentence-level constraints may
occur in nonnative-speakers before pragmatic-level constraints, and when these
pragmatic constraints are learned, they are often overapplied. Certain
challenges to L2 variability include appropriately defining the contexts of
variation and quantifying native speaker variability. Geeslin concludes that the
inclusion of situational, social, and geographic variability in the Spanish
language classroom could greatly expand language learners’ abilities.

The fourth section of this volume deals with “Spanish in Contact”, opening with
a chapter by Anna María Escobar on “Spanish in Contact with Quechua” (Chapter
16) in the South American Andean zone. After providing a brief history of the
languages in question, Escobar presents the primary linguistic features in this
contact zone, which include lexical borrowings from Quechua; loan-blending
(Guevara 1972); code-switching; grammatical borrowings, e.g. the inclusion of
the Quechua plural marker; phonological influence; and morphosyntactic
influence. The author then describes the micro- and macro-sociolinguistic
factors that influence language in the region, ranging from government policies
to speakers’ interactions and social networks. Finally, the author introduces
the newer contact situation of Andean Spanish and Quechua in contact with
non-Andean Spanish, which is progressively increasing the prestige of Andean
Spanish. Escobar concludes that more studies are needed to tease apart which
features in Andean Spanish are truly due to contact and which have arisen
independently of the contact situation.

Shaw N. Gynan also discusses a South American contact situation in Chapter 17,
“Spanish in Contact with Guaraní”. Gynan first reviews the literature on the
unique language contact situation in Paraguay, presenting census data from the
1950s to the present on language use and preference, discussing language
attitudes (e.g. Guaraní, though associated with national identity, may also be
associated with backwardness, while Spanish is the language of economic value),
and finally outlining the language and education policies in place in Paraguay.
Gynan also details the phonological, morphosyntactic, and lexico-semantic
influences of Guaraní on Spanish, such as glottal stop epenthesis, null object
pronoun use, and Guaraní word use like ‘ñandú’ ‘ostrich’ instead of ‘avestruz’.
Lastly, Gynan illustrates how Guaraní’s influence on Spanish is portrayed in
writing, ranging from folksy depictions to the stereotypical stigmatized speech
of Guaraní-dominant peasants. The author calls upon linguists to explore this
dialect in more depth, paying particular attention to informal registers in
order to access the covert prestige associated with “typical” Paraguayan Spanish.

Chapter 18, “Spanish in Contact with Catalan” by José Luis Blas Arroyo, explores
the language contact situation in Catalonia from a theoretical perspective,
providing an overview of the most important issues in the field of contact
linguistics. First, Blas Arroyo discusses the differences across the dialects of
Spanish in contact with Catalan, which range from L2, interlanguage-like
varieties where the autochthonous population is very dense and Catalan is
predominant to castellorquín (Radataz 2008), the non-standard dialect of Spanish
employed by farm workers and lower-class Mallorcans. The author also explores
the integration of contact phenomena in society, what Weinreich (1953) deemed
“interferences in language”, ranging from isolated loan words or expressions to
words incorporated in Spanish following morpho-phonological rules, e.g.
‘encruzar’ instead of Standard Spanish’s ‘cruzar’ ‘to cross’. Finally, Blas
Arroyo discusses the features most easily attributable to language contact and
the notable features of linguistic convergence before suggesting the areas in
particular need of attention in the field of contact linguistics, namely the
structural restraints that condition these linguistic changes.

In Chapter 19, J. Clancy Clements, Patrícia Amaral, and Ana R. Luís describe
“Spanish in Contact with Portuguese: The Case of Barranquenho”, which is a
language with Portuguese lexicon and grammar, but with many phonological,
morphosyntactic, and semantic elements from Spanish. The authors explain that
Barranquenho emerged slowly as Spanish speakers in the Barranco area, which
underwent an 800-year territorial dispute between Spain and Portugal, learned
Portuguese, and the variety is preserved today as a badge of cultural identity.
Among the defining features of Barranquenho are post-tonic final vowel raisings
(/ə/ to [i]), a lack of distinction between /b/ and /v/, and the use of /r/
instead of /ʀ/. Some Extremaduran features are also apparent, e.g.
syllable-final /s/ aspiration or deletion, and word-final /r/ and /l/ deletion.
Semantic equivalents to Spanish in this dialect include present perfect use,
‘estar’ + gerund use, doubling of indirect objects and indirect object clitic
proclisis, use of ‘le’ or ‘les’ instead of ‘lhe’ or ‘lhes’, the use of the
discourse marker ‘buenu’, variation between ‘gostar de’ and ‘gustarle a
alguien’, and double pronominalization. The majority of the salient features of
Barranquenho are predicted by the authors to have been transferred from Spanish
to Portuguese, a process that slowly took place as the inhabitants of Barrancos
learned Portuguese due to local and socio-political reasons. The authors
conclude that Barranquenhos now place themselves between the two cultures,
marking their independence and hybridity through their language use.

In Chapter 20, Luis A. Ortiz López explores “Spanish in Contact with Haitian
Creole” from a “contact linguistics and translinguistic influence” (418)
perspective. The author discusses subject pronoun use by age, language
acquisition (1L1, 2L1, and L2), and language dominance. His study shows a
significant difference between L2 adult and adolescent learners, on the one
hand, and 1L1 and 2L1 speakers, on the other, with Spanish L2 learners retaining
the non-pro-drop parameter of Haitian Creole. Those whose Spanish contact began
after the age of ten converge with adult L2 learners in an overgeneralization of
the non-pro-drop rule, which Ortiz López attributes to a delay in the
discourse-syntax interface processing of null vs. overt subject pronouns. Ortiz
López notes that these results suggest a separation of grammars for 1L1 and 2L1
speakers, while L2 learners select the subject pronoun option apparent in both
languages (non-pro-drop) when presented with ambiguous input.

Armin Schwegler’s contribution, “Palenque (Colombia): Multilingualism in an
Extraordinary Social and Historical Context” (Chapter 21), describes the three
vernaculars in the Palenque linguistic situation in Colombia: Spanish,
Palenquero Creole, and a ritual vernacular of African origin. While the
vocabulary of Palenquero Creole is almost entirely Spanish, many morphosyntactic
differences make the two languages mutually unintelligible. Some of the most
salient features of Palenquero include a lack of gender/number marking, a lack
of overt definiteness marking, and unchanging verbal stems with TMA markers,
among others. The Spanish of Palenque is divided into two casual varieties of
Coastal Caribbean Spanish: a “low”, in-group variety, and a higher status
variety for speaking with in- and out-group members. Finally, lumbalú is a
ritual-based code used in funeral rites, although most of the Africanisms have
been forgotten.

In the last chapter in this section (Chapter 22), Lofti Sayahi investigates
“Spanish in Contact with Arabic”. Sayahi first presents a socio-historical
background to situate the relationship between the two languages, which began in
Spain and Northern Africa and continued with the immigration of Arabic speakers
to Latin America beginning in the late 1800s. Because of the socio-historical
relationship between Spain and Northern Africa, interesting situations of
varying degrees of bilingualism emerge in Ceuta and Melilla, Northern Morocco,
Western Sahara, and Northern Algeria. In the Iberian Peninsula, 12% of
immigrants are of Moroccan origin, and Argentina houses many Arabic-speaking
communities that have preserved Arabic mainly for religious purposes. Sayahi
also details the linguistic features common in the Spanish of Spanish-Arabic
bilinguals, including the raising of unstressed mid vowels, initial vowel
deletion, pronominal order charges, e.g. ‘se me’ > ‘me se’ (Moreno-Fernández
1992), and religious borrowings from Arabic, among others.

The fifth section of the handbook covers “Spanish in the United States, Heritage
Language, L2 Spanish”.

In Chapter 23, Lourdes Torres addresses “Spanish in the United States: Bilingual
Discourse Markers”, providing an overview of previous studies that discuss
differences between discourse markers such as ‘so’ and ‘entonces’, both highly
used among Spanish-English bilinguals, which show similar pragmatic-discourse
uses. The author also details the epenthesis of ‘so’ across speech communities
in the US, the extent of which shows acculturation of Spanish speakers in an
English-dominant society regardless of their proficiency in English. Torres
notes that studies on discourse markers in the US are also useful for analyzing
differences based on register and formality, as discourse markers are used
differently given different power relationships and intended audience. Finally,
Torres explains that heritage speakers appropriate the discourse marker ‘como’
as a quotative or a semantically-empty filler word, much like in English
(Sánchez-Muños 2007). Torres calls for future studies across more varied
contexts and registers to help map the use of discourse markers in multilingual

Chapter 24 is by Ricardo Otheguy, titled “Functional Adaptation and Conceptual
Convergence in the Analysis of Language Contact in the Spanish of Bilingual
Communities in New York”. Otheguy first illustrates how Spanish is spoken in
NYC, focusing on the differences between innovative usage and innovative
grammar. Simplifying functional adaptations include the phonological reshaping
of English loanwords, e.g. ‘building’ as ‘bildin’, the use of shorter,
duplicating loanwords, e.g. ‘cash’ replaces ‘efectivo’, the dominant use of the
masculine article ‘el’ with loanwords, and the loss of personal ‘a’. The
difficulty, of course, lies in determining which of these simplifications are
due to contact. Otheguy argues that phonological adaptation of English words and
the incorporation of duplicating loanwords are not instances of language
contact, as the former appears in both the contact and reference lects, and the
latter is functionally motivated by length. However, the use of the masculine
article with loanwords and the loss of ‘a’ supports the argument for a contact
dialect in NYC. After a discussion of functional adaptation and conceptual
convergence, the author concludes that one cannot simply discuss language
contact where two languages are in contact; rather, one must indicate
paralinguistic behaviors that could reflect language contact and conduct a
theory-based grammatical analysis to determine their contact status.

Almeida Jacqueline Toribio discusses “Code-switching among US Latinos” in
Chapter 25, providing an overview of the users, properties, contexts, and
motivations of English-Spanish code-switching with examples of the process.
Toribio explains that borrowings and loan shifts (or semantic calques) are
frequent in the speech of US bilinguals, with the alternation between English
and Spanish at the discourse level (code-switching) being frequent only among
those proficient in both languages. The author discusses code-switching as a
conscious choice that can serve many functions depending on the speaker and
context, including topic shift, quotation, persuasion, emphasis, question shift
(Reyes 2004: 84-85), identity construction, etc. In general, the phenomenon is
employed when a long-standing contact relationship exists between two languages,
and Toribio notes that even media outlets have begun using code-switching to
specifically target the U.S. Latino demographic.

In Chapter 26, Norma Mendoza-Denton and Bryan James Gordon investigate “Language
and Social Meaning in Bilingual Mexico and the United States” reviewing the
literature on the negotiation of social meaning and identity construction
through language use in different spheres. They begin with a discussion of
bureaucracy and the public sphere, detailing Spanish-English interactions in
hospitals, and the issues of class, deportability, and independence of medical
choice that emerge as a result of Spanish use. The second sphere detailed
includes the media’s and the elites’ language use, focusing on TV shows such as
“Cristina” that emphasize a Spanish-only stance and actually censor US Latino
code-switching: these programs may enforce norms of a particular
Spanish-speaking country or establish a pan-ethnic vision of Latin America.
Finally, mobility within bilingual communities is discussed, with focus placed
on the relationship between language and culture and the importance of speaking
a culture’s dominant language in order to be upwardly mobile. Mendoza-Denton and
Gordon also explore the linguistic shifts that take place when Spanish is
brought into contact with English, such as an expanded use of ‘estar’, and the
changing notions of indigeneity and legitimacy within a settler state. Finally,
the authors describe attempts to bridge the micro-macro divide in linguistic
studies on social meaning.

Chapter 27, “Intrafamilial Dialectal Contact” by Kim Potowski, investigates
language contact situations within a single household in which two different
dialects of Spanish are spoken by the parents. After providing a brief review of
the literature on Spanish dialects in contact with each other in the United
States and the acquisition of dialects among children with mixed parental input,
Potowski details the few existing studies exploring the speech of children who
come from homes with one parent speaking Mexican Spanish and another speaking
Puerto Rican Spanish. Potowski and Matts (2008) find that 15/18 of their
participants approximated the mother’s dialect more than the father’s,
demonstrating the mother’s importance in language and dialect transmission (see
Labov 1994, Robert 1997). Potowski (2008) confirms that the speakers
phonologically considered either Puerto Rican or Mexican also used more lexical
items from that dialect. The author concludes that a great deal more work is
needed to account for rater reliability, interviewer effects, parental
accommodation, and contact with other Spanish-speaking groups.

In “Heritage Language Students: The Case of Spanish” (Chapter 28), Guadalupe
Valdés and Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci focus on the teaching of Spanish to heritage
speakers, a term fraught with different definitions and understandings. The
authors provide a historical overview of teaching Spanish to bilingual speakers,
concern about which has existed since the 1930s, and heritage speakers, which
began in the late 1970s. However, the authors note that resources for teaching
heritage speakers were limited until the late 1990s, when standards,
professional activities, professional development series, conferences, and other
resources for teachers emerged. Valdés and Geoffrion-Vinci explain that
different approaches are being taken in these teaching strategies, from
psycholinguistic, educational, and sociolinguistic perspectives, and argue for
an interdisciplinary approach, as publications on heritage Spanish often serve
the purposes only of their field and do not carry out a scholarly discussion
across sub-disciplines.

“Language Maintenance and Language Shift among US Latinos” by Jorge Porcel
(Chapter 29) investigates socio-structural variables, variables shaping the
speech community, and language attitudes that affect a group’s language choices,
bringing about maintenance or shift. Porcel also discusses the assessment
strategies to determine a group’s maintenance or shift based on, for example,
loyalty and retention measures (see Hudson et al. 1995). The monolingual as
superior to multilingual bias in the Western world, the cultural devaluation of
minority languages, and the demographic, socioeconomic, cultural, and legal
status of the minority population’s roles in influencing language choices are
discussed, along with other factors such as the frequency and duration of
language contact for the minority group and the concentration and location of
the minority population, which also play a role in molding the speech community.
The author concludes that maintenance or shift are acts of identity (Le Page and
Tabouret-Keller 1985), as individuals make decisions about their language use,
and these choices are influenced by complex linguistic, structural, societal,
and cultural factors.

The fifth section of the handbook concludes with a piece by Adam Schwartz, who
explores “Mockery and Appropriation of Spanish in White Spaces: Perceptions of
Latinos in the United States”. Schwartz argues that Spanish is being
reappropriated by monolingual English speakers with everything from racial
motivations to attempts to be politically correct (Zentella 2003). Referring to
“indexicality” and “White space”, Schwartz builds upon Hill’s (1998; 2008)
analysis of “Mock Spanish”, which involves a simplification of and, often,
complete disregard for grammatical rules, with the overuse of the suffix -o or
erroneous insertion of the masculine article ‘el’ to present a linguistically
fashionable or humorous image. Schwartz explores the deeper implications of this
reappropriation, which, instead of being considered fashionable or humorous, may
actually be considered covertly racist, presenting Spanish as disorderly and
enforcing the racial inequality associated with language use.

The sixth and final section of the handbook is entitled “Language
Policy/Planning, Language Attitudes and Ideology”.

Ofelia García contributes Chapter 31, “Planning Spanish: Nationalization,
Minoritizing and Globalizing Performances”, which explores Spanish in its uses
as a national, minority, and global language with both explicit and hidden
language planning. García discusses Castilian language planning in Spain through
the construction of an idealized homogenous, centralized state, and the
management of other languages in the peninsula. García explains that explicit
royal or dictatorial decrees silenced other languages until more recent years,
which have witnessed an expansion of linguistic rights in Spain. The author also
details language practices in Latin America, explaining that Spaniards imposed
explicit language policies in the Americas as well, and in spite of the
widespread preexisting linguistic diversity, only 17% of the indigenous
population did not speak Spanish by 1898. Recently, Latin American countries
have been granting co-official status to indigenous languages, continuing in the
Spanish tradition of explicit language planning. In the United States, however,
the racialization and devaluation of Spanish as a language of the colonized or
the threatening immigrant has more implicitly relegated Spanish to a lower
societal rung than English ideologically. Finally, because Spanish-speaking
markets are booming economically, García argues that Spanish is being presented
as a “fashionable” (see Guareschi 2001) language of the world. The author
concludes with a plea for dynamic language policies that consider the many
Spanishes and the many different language practices of the world instead of
oversimplifying a diverse and complicated issue.

In Chapter 32, Serafín M. Coronel-Molina and Megan Solon discuss “Bilingual
Education in Latin America”, focusing on the four countries of Peru, Guatemala,
Bolivia, and Ecuador. Coronel-Molina and Solon discuss the history and
development of Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE), as well as its current
state in each country investigated. After presenting the numerous laws, reforms,
and language policy changes that have been introduced in each country, the
authors conclude that indigenous linguistic rights have garnered much more
attention since the end of the 20th century than ever before. However,
additional discussion is needed regarding the accessibility of these changes, as
well as their design, development, and realization. Another cause for concern is
the lack of ethnographic data on IBE’s implementation and effects to assess the
indigenous reaction to and reality of the policy changes. Policymakers must
continue to discuss, evaluate, and advocate for IBE to handle a dynamic and
global linguistic situation.

Chapter 33, “Variation and Identity in Spain” by Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy,
introduces the history and standardization of Castilian Spanish (and the
subsequent devaluation of other Spanish dialects), along with the linguistic
variation and different identities found in Peninsular Spanish. He divides
Peninsular Spanish into three main categories: (1) the national Castilian
Spanish standard, (2) the local or regional variety, and (3) the interdialectal
common Spanish. The variation found in non-standard Peninsular dialects of
Andalusian and Murcian, with eight vowel systems and many non-standard
consonantal processes, are explored with reference to the variation commonly
found in “standard” speaking areas, such as ‘haber’ pluralization and -ra/-se
imperfect subjunctive variation. The authors conclude that these variations in
Peninsular Spanish serve as acts of identity (Le Page and Tabouret-Keller 1985)
to situate the individual in a larger social space.

Mercedes Niño-Murcia investigates “Variation and Identity in the Americas” in
Chapter 34, distinguishing between primordialist concepts of identity, in which
identity is inherent and unchanging, and constructivist approaches, in which
identity is a perpetually negotiated and ever-mutating entity. Under the
constructivist perspective, individuals use language to signal their identity
and belonging to a certain social group. To illustrate identity formation in
Latin America and attitudes towards indigenous languages, Niño-Murcia discusses
the unique situation in Paraguay and the expansion of Guaraní versus the
increased stigmatization of indigenous languages in Peru. She also considers
migration’s implications on language and identity, describing the changing
gender roles of Shipibo immigrants in Lima as women, who were less socially
valued in Shipibo, begin to earn more money than men and actually preserve
Shipibo culture through their artisanal work and speak their indigenous language
more than men. Finally, the author looks at identity construction and attitudes
towards Spanish in the US, where many bilinguals choose to code-switch between
English and Spanish to signal their identification with both languages, but
other immigrants consider the behavior disloyal or uneducated. Niño Murcia
concludes that language, often idealized as pure and unchanging, is inherently
mutable as individuals use language to co-construct their identity through

The closing chapter in the compilation is “Linguistic Imperialism: Who Owns
Global Spanish?” by Clare Mar-Molinero and Darren Paffey, which addresses the
attitudes towards and use of Spanish as a global language. The authors argue
that even though Spain is no longer in power in Latin America, its
nation-building and language-building in the Americas has enabled it to portray
itself as the rightful “custodians of castellano” (754) and sell a version of
global Spanish through the Instituto Cervantes and the Real Academia de la
Lengua Española (RAE), symbols of linguistic imperialism. As the demand for
Spanish grows, arguments over linguistic ideologies, values, and ownership
emerge as well. While Spanish is well behind English in its emergence as a
lingua franca, communities of Spanish-as-a-global-language leaners are emerging,
but Mar-Molinero and Paffey argue that the materials available from the
Instituto Cervantes contain values and goals for assimilation that do not align
with the numerous dialects of Spanish and communities of Spanish-speakers across
the globe.


“The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics” is, as the title suggests, the
resource for all Hispanic sociolinguists. The compilation is an invaluable
collection of work for students and professors alike, unparalleled in its
breadth. While sophisticated in its content, the Handbook is clear and
accessible as well, making it an excellent resource even for those outside of
the field of sociolinguistics or for those who may be less familiar with
sociolinguistic work on the Spanish language.

The Handbook tackles diverse areas of Hispanic linguistics, ranging from
phonology, morphosyntax, contact and L2 Spanish, language policy, and language
attitudes. In its 35 chapters, the Handbook includes work from qualitative,
quantitative, empirical, theoretical, and pedagogical approaches, offering a
veritable smorgasbord of data- and theory-driven arguments with real-life,
practical applications. Also notable is the fact that this volume weds
traditional with cutting-edge approaches, with arguments ranging from
longstanding debates in Hispanic sociolinguistics to the most innovative
subdisciplines and approaches, such as historical sociolinguistics.

Even in chapters focusing on more classic debates within the field, the authors
all push for improvements and suggest the directions from which they believe
their subfield would benefit the most, making the vision and goals of the
Handbook consistently progressive. As far as the individual contributors are
concerned, the compilation reads as a “who’s who” in the field of Hispanic
sociolinguistics, ranging from most well-established sociolinguists to the best
emerging scholars, providing a frame of reference from the most renowned experts
in each area.

Obviously, due to considerations of length and the far-reaching objective of the
volume, the breadth is more impressive than the depth throughout the Handbook,
which serves primarily as a summary of the major debates and as a point of
departure for its readers. However, each contribution provides an extensive list
of additional sources and areas for exploration, providing the reader with both
an overview of the most important discussions in the subfield and an excellent
bibliography for further investigation.

Overall, the well-roundedness, clarity, and breadth of “The Handbook of Hispanic
Sociolinguistics” make it an indispensable tool for all linguists. The volume
presents a clear explanation of the history of the field, recent advancements,
and future directions for the field of Hispanic sociolinguistics that are
relevant and accessible to anyone with an interest in the topic. The compilation
is a “must-have” for the bookshelf of any modern sociolinguist, and it is a
resource that will help raise questions and shape debates in the field for years
to come.


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Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: some universals in
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Cameron, Richard. 2005. Aging and gendering. Language in Society 34. 23-61.

Corder, S. Pit. 1967. The significance of learners’ errors. International Review
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Díaz-Campos, Manuel. 2001. Acquisition of phonological structure and
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Hill, Jane H. 1998. Language, race and White public space. American
Anthropologist 100 (3). 680-689.

Hill, Jane H. 2008. The everyday language of white racism. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hudson, Allan, Eduardo Hernández Chávez, and Garland D. Bills. 1995. The many
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states. In Carmen Silva-Corvalán (ed.), Spanish in four continents: studies in
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Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change: internal factors. Oxford:

Le Page, R.B. and A. Tabouret-Keller. 1985. Acts of identity: creole-based
approaches to ethnicity and language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moreno-Fernández, Francisco. 1992. El español en Orán: notas históricas,
dialectales y sociolingüísticas. Revista de Filología Española LXXII. 5-35.

Potowski, Kim. 2008. “I was raised talking like my mom”: the influence of
mothers in the development of MexiRicans’ phonological and lexical features. In
J. Rothman and M. Niño Murcia (eds.), Linguistic identity and bilingualism in
different Hispanic contexts. New York: John Benjamins.

Potowski, Kim and Janine Matts. 2008. Interethnic language and identity:
MexiRicans in Chicago. Journal of Language, Identity and Education 6 (3). 137-160.

Radataz, Hans-Ingo. 2008. Castellorquín: el castellano hablado por los
mallorquines. In C. Sinner and A. Wesch (eds.), El castellano en las tierras de
habla catalana, 113-132. Frankfurt and Madrid: Vervuert and Iberoamericana.

Reig Alamillo, Asela. 2009. Cross-dialectal variation in propositional anaphora:
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Reyes, I. 2004. Functions of code-switching in schoolchildrens’ conversations.
Bilingual Research Journal 28. 77-98.

Sánchez-Muños, Ana. 2007. Style variation in Spanish as a heritage language: a
study of discourse particles in academic and non-academic registers. In Kim
Potowski and Richard Cameron (eds.), Spanish in contact, 153-173. New York: John

Weinreich, Uriel. 1953. Languages in contact. Findings and problems. New York:
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Zentella, Ana Celia. 2003. “José, can you see?” Latin@ responses to racist
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Whitney Chappell is a PhD candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at the Ohio State University specializing in sociophonetic variation. Her doctoral dissertation (in progress) deals with coda /s/ realization and glottal stop insertion in Nicaraguan Spanish.

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